Monmouth natural foods store owner tired of constant struggle

MONMOUTH -- Naturally, Monmouth's downtown health food and organic produce grocery store, will close within the next couple of months.

"We're going to miss the interaction with our regular customers," Steve Milligan, owner, said. "But we've become exhaused, frustrated and now it's time to do something else."

Milligan said running the store has become a struggle during the past couple of years. His decision to close is primarily due to the seasonal "dry up" in sales that occurs for Monmouth retailers during faculty and student breaks and vacations at Western Oregon University.

"Those winter and summer gaps are getting larger," he said. "A lot of people want us to have the same stock as we do in the spring, when everybody is in town ... but we just didn't have the money to do that."

Attempts at getting a line of credit to keep the business afloat during the down periods failed, Milligan said.

The overall climate for small businesses in Monmouth is not a healthy one, Milligan also said.

"We have retail businesses in the downtown area, but this isn't a retail zone -- it's a service and vacant building district.

"Monmouth seems to be a town that doesn't want a big box store," he said. "Yet a lot of people seem more than willing to drive to drive to Salem or Dallas to use one ... they say 'Save our local businesses' but don't step up."

Milligan said he wasn't sure when he would be closing the doors to his store, but "hoped to have the floor clear by the first of January."

Milligan moved to Monmouth with his wife, Becky, in 1998 and opened Naturally in 2001.

Besides owning and operating his store, Milligan is a city councilor, head of the Monmouth Business Assocation and is on the Monmouth-Independence Network (MInet) Board of Directors.

Milligan said he planned to remain in Monmouth and "find something else to do." The store's closure will not interrupt his civic duties, he said.

Naturally, located at 183 W Main St., is conducting a 30 percent-off liquidation sale of its remaining products.

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