Grocery war taking shape in Santa Rosa

  • Tara McRann checks out Anne-Marie Allen, a loyal customer for 25 years, at Community Market in Santa Rosa, June 11, 2011.

Sonoma County retailers long have a history of making it as tough as possible for out-of-area competitors to horn in on their home turf.

Yardbirds for years thwarted Home Depot from getting a toe-hold in Santa Rosa.

Friedman's Home Improvement similarly bankrolled the opposition to Lowe's on Santa Rosa Avenue.

Pacific Market in Rohnert Park warned it would close if the nearby Wal-Mart was allowed to sell groceries and promptly did.

And Santa Rosa's downtown restaurants even ran a group of food trucks out of town in part because some hailed from Napa and Sebastopol.

The latest front in the local versus out-of-area chains is opening up over a possible Sprouts Farmers Market natural foods store on Santa Rosa's Mendocino Avenue.

The fast-growing Phoenix-based Sprouts is eyeing the northeast corner of Mendocino's busy intersection with Bicentennial Avenue, across from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center. The four-acre site is covered with oak trees that hide a 22-unit apartment complex and two homes.

It also is less than a mile north of Community Market, a small specialty organic grocery with a long history and loyal following.

Nica Poznanovich, outreach coordinator for the market founded as a co-op in 1975, said despite its strong local support, when Whole Foods arrived in Coddingtown, annual sales of about $5 million fell 10 percent.

"I don't know how we would handle another 10 percent," Poznanovich said.

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