LA GRANDE –– Seeking a fresh image, Market Place grocery store invited several professionals to the store to talk about its design this week.

Among the designers was Dave Yount, a marketing director for Spokane Produce. Recently, Yount received the Outstanding New Concept Award from Progressive Grocer magazine for his design of My Fresh Basket.

“I drew up the concept on a napkin,” Yount said of the Spokane store.

The idea behind My Fresh Basket, which is an independent grocery store, was to become the neighborhood’s daily market.

While Spokane is quite a bit bigger than La Grande, Marco Rennie, operator of the Market Place store, has a similar concept of what the store can be.

“(My Fresh Basket) showcases produce and prepared food. I like the model of it,” Rennie said. “They’re in a very densely populated area, but they have a product mix that parallels what people (in La Grande said via surveys they) would appreciate.”

Because grocery shopping can be a chore, “We want to create an environment that people like to be at,” Yount said.

He said My Fresh Basket was designed for a “tight knit” area, to give residents a store for their day to day groceries.

He noted that organic and natural food options are becoming steadily more popular, and his job is to design stores that seamlessly include what shoppers want.

One of the things that works for My Fresh Basket is the amount of local vendors they have in the store. Yount said there are more than 60 vendors involved from the local area and the community gravitated toward that.

“We had artisan bread makers and coffee roasters — that’s what gets customers coming back to a store,” Yount said.

Rennie said Family Foods was seeking Yount’s expertise in how to make the store fit into the community.

“He’ll help us to better understand how we can fit and become people’s grocery store of choice,” Rennie said.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer