Dropping sales, loss of space pushes Tidal Creek toward downtown relocation

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Dropping sales figures and an impending loss of outdoor space are prompting Tidal Creek to consider a move from Oleander Drive to downtown Wilmington. Photo courtesy Tidal Creek/Jeff Branch.
Dropping sales figures and an impending loss of outdoor space are prompting Tidal Creek to consider a move from Oleander Drive to downtown Wilmington. Photo courtesy Tidal Creek/Jeff Branch.

With its longtime location proving unsustainable, natural foods business Tidal Creek is pushing forward with a plan to head downtown.

The co-op announced in March that the potential move was prompted, in large part, by increased competition from neighboring chain stores Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, which both carry organic and alternative fare.

Tidal Creek–in operation locally for more than three decades–is currently located on Oleander Drive, just a few miles from the larger food stores.

The shop has seen its sales steadily drop since 2012, when it took in approximately $5.25 million. This year’s figure is hovering around $3.75 million, a release from the co-op’s board of directors shows.

The community-owned store will also soon be losing some valuable space at the end of the month. For several years Tidal Creek, housed in a narrow shopping center with limited parking, has leased a portion of the adjacent property that was once Cinema 6 theater for additional parking spaces, green space and an outdoor deck.

UNC-Wilmington, which purchased the property in 2006, recently sold it, effectively changing Tidal Creek’s “tenancy status,” according to the release.

“As of Dec. 31 of this year, we lose legal rights to the green space across from the co-op entrance where our deck resides, as well as rights to the parking lot across the walkway,” board president Ryanna Battiste said. “As parking is one of the biggest weaknesses of our current property, the loss of this additional parking and deck space will be very challenging.”

After months of doing research and seeking public input, the board maintains that the downtown Wilmington area would be a more suitable, profitable location.

Tidal Creek is continuing to review several spots for the move, which the board believes would also help fill a gap in what’s now an urban food desert. Board members have been working to create a presentation for the City of Wilmington in hopes of establishing a partnership with officials.

“Downtown needs more food options,” Battiste said. “And we need downtown.”

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.