Faced with opposition campaigns from and , Orchard Supply Hardware has decided not to open a store in the space.
Rick Saunders, Orchard Supply’s director of marketing, confirmed the decision Thursday but declined to elaborate on the specific reasons for the reversal. Orchard earlier this month with Robert Knez, CEO of HL Commercial Real Estate in San Rafael and the agent for the building's owners, the Parrish Trust. Knez could not be reached for comment.
After the agreement was announced, Tam Valley resident Mark Marinozzi created a pair of online petitions against Orchard Supply’s move to the area, one invoking the community’s need for a grocery store in the 23,000-square-foot space at 209 Flamingo Road and the other urging one prospective grocery tenant to move into Tam Valley. The petitions have garnered nearly 400 signatures.
Saunders said the outcry wasn’t the primary driver in Orchard Supply’s decision to pull the plug on the Tam Valley deal.
"We believe it was a relatively small number of people who reacted and that wouldn't preclude us from going forward,” he said. “Then again, part of being Orchard Supply is that our customers love us, and we like that. Right now we're growing and actively looking at lots of desirable locations throughout California."
Orchard Supply has a store in San Rafael and 88 throughout California.
Reaction to the news was mixed, with Zviki Govrin, general manager of nearby saying he was relieved to avoid competition from a company of Orchard Supply’s size. Goodman officials had that had garnered 350 signatures, according to spokesman Harold Abend.
“I’m happy they backed off,” Govrin said. “The community needs something different over there and we all know that. We were ready to fight but I’m happy to put the energy elsewhere.”
Govrin had argued that there wasn’t enough home and garden business for Orchard Supply, Goodman and the garden centers in town like , and the .
“I didn’t think there was enough business for both of us,” Govrin said. “We would both have suffered until somebody died and I didn’t want to be the one who died."
Curry Ecklehoff, a 53-year local resident and the chair of the Tam Valley Improvement Club, wasn’t as pleased.
“I was afraid of that,” she said. “I’m discouraged. I wasn’t an advocate for anything going there but something would be better than nothing.”
Eckelhoff emphasized that the change of use from a grocery store to a hardware store would have triggered a public hearing process for a Use Permit and a Master Plan for the property, which extends from the market south to TJ’s Crossfit Gym.
“They would have made roadways and out in trees and landscaping – that whole area would’ve been beautiful instead of what it is now,” she said. “It would have enhanced the other businesses around there. The whole area would’ve been nice. So we missed an opportunity.”
Saunders said Orchard Supply would have been a boon for the local community. He cited the company’s new store in Fresno, which created 75 new jobs in that area, as well as the company’s dedication to great customer service.
Marinozzi said he hopes the community can turn the Orchard Supply dustup into a concerted collaborative effort to fill the former DeLano’s space.
“I hope that the petitions and all of the attention that’s been put on this space raises awareness in the community that we really have to work together to come with a solution that’s best for everybody – the community, the Parrish Trust and local businesses,” Marinozzi said.
Orchard Supply, based in San Jose, Calif., was founded in 1931 as a cooperative among 30 orchard owners for farming supplies. It was bought by Sears in 1996 and spun out of Sears Holdings earlier this year. The company went public on the Nasdaq exchange in January and is in growth mode this year, according to a spokesperson.