Mountain Mama buys property for new store at 19th & Henderson

       Two years from now, Mountain Mama - a family-owned business that is the Westside's largest natural foods store - plans to be operating from a new building.

Kent (left) Julie and Sue Sasinka in 2004, when they were celebrating the store's 25th year.
Westside Pioneer photo

       A sign advertising a Spring 2009 opening is staked on the vacant 18,600-square-foot site at the northwest corner of 19th Street and Henderson Avenue (just west of the Uintah Gardens shopping center).
       “We'll break ground in a year,” said Julie Sasinka, who owns and runs the business with her parents and store founders Kent and Sue Sasinka. “I wish it was sooner.”
       Designed in a “mountain” style using stone and timber effects, the two-story building will be a little bigger than the current store, but remain “Westside size” with “character and flow,” Julie Sasinka said. “It's not going to be a big box.”
       Plans have already been submitted to city departments for review, and so far no major concerns have been raised, she said. Still, she knows that the route to a building permit can take a while, and added that two years - the time remaining on the lease at the current store - might work out just about right.
       The new site will require minimal location adjustment for customers. It's only about a quarter-mile away from the present store in a one-story strip-mall at 1625 W. Uintah Street, just south of the Uintah Gardens shopping center.
       “We wanted to be careful to stay close,” Julie Sasinka said. “These are our people. We didn't want to disturb our clientele too much.”
       In the store's 28-year-history, it hasn't moved far. Its original spot was in the Uintah Gardens center itself (in a former building that is now being replaced with a Walgreen's).
       Customers won't even have to adjust to a new entrance style. It will be at a diagonal, just like the current store, plans show.
       The new environs will let Mountain Mama expand some of its offerings and to provide a “nicer, more upscale” shopping experience, Sasinka said. The current space totals about 5,000 square feet, not counting office and storage, while the new place will have about 8,000 square feet, of which there will be a greater amount of storage, leaving 5,600 for retail space.
       Customers will find a larger deli and more specialty foods and produce, with the “biggest gain” being the space for refrigerated and frozen foods. “When we first started, there were only about three yogurt companies and no natural ice creams,” Sasinka recalled. “This is the part of the industry that's growing the most.”

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