Erewhon Market likely coming to Trancas shopping center

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File photo (2012): The HOWS Market sign sits atop the old HOWS Market store where Erewhon is expected to set up shop.Organic grocery store Erewhon Natural Foods Market of Los Angeles is expected to open a Malibu branch at the former HOWS Market location at the Trancas shopping center. 

The organic grocery from Beverly Hills is expected to open a Malibu branch in the former HOWS Market location.

By Jimy Tallal / Special to The Malibu Times

Ever since HOWS Market closed its doors at the Trancas shopping center last summer, residents of far western Malibu have been without a neighborhood grocery store. Putting a year’s worth of local rumors to rest about what would replace it, it has now been all but officially confirmed that the organic grocery Erewhon Natural Foods Market of Los Angeles will be filling that void as soon as the ownership finishes its extensive redesign and renovation of the shopping center.

Although the coming of Erewhon has become common knowledge around Malibu over the past few weeks, the Trancas shopping center’s representatives could not be reached for confirmation. The center’s leasing agent, Tony Dorn, said “there have been some signings [of leases]” at the shopping center, but ownership (Zuma Beach Properties, LLC), wants to assign a “point person” for media contacts, which hasn’t happened yet. Scott Rozier, the owner’s representative on the construction project, did not return phone calls.

Speculation that Erewhon would be taking over the old HOWS space was confirmed informally by some of the small business owners and employees at Trancas Country Market; and Erewhon has put up an “Erewhon Natural Foods Market: Malibu” Facebook page. On June 5, one person submitted a comment asking when their Malibu store would open. Erewhon responded: “Coming soon.”

This is only the second store for Erewhon, which opened in 1968. Tom DeSilva has been the owner since 1980, and the store has been in its present 12,000 square-foot location at 7660-B Beverly Boulevard since 1991.

Erewhon’s web site states it is “a model store in the natural foods industry offering the finest selection of organically-grown produce, groceries and macrobiotic staples…with a wide variety of natural remedies including vitamins, herbs and homeopathics.” The existing store has a produce department that’s 85 to 90 percent organic, a tonic/juice bar, deli, gourmet foods, groceries, and a nutrition, bath and body care department.

The name “Erewhon” is taken from the Utopian novel of the same name written by Samuel Butler in the 1800s about a land where people are held responsible for their own health.

It is Erewhon’s policy not to carry food products containing synthetic (artificial) sweeteners, refined (white) sugars, bleached flour products, chemical preservatives and additives, growth hormones or hydrogenated/trans fats. They also support sustainable agricultural practices and try to screen out genetically modified and irradiated foods.

Current tenants that have stayed open during construction in the Trancas Country Market shopping center include Starbucks, Sea Lily flower shop, Trancas Canyon Nursery, the Postal Annex and Trancas Cleaners.

Leases are currently being negotiated with new tenants, including a new restaurant named La Spiaggia from the owners of Tra Di Noi that has been in the works for more than a year, according to a blog post by Malibu Realtor Gracee Arthur.

The shopping center is located on a 17-acre site next to Trancas Creek and groves of old sycamore trees. The design, which is being done by Malibu architect Doug Burdge’s firm, includes an open-air commons, cafes, local garden nursery, walking path and expanded parking area across the street. The buildings will be “barn style,” incorporating barn wood, rustic metal roofing and working barn doors.

The shopping center is owned by Zuma Beach Properties, LLC of St. Louis, Missouri, which is believed to be owned by Wal-Mart heiress Paige Dubbert and her husband Bo. Local Dan Bercu originally owned the property, but it is unknown if he still retains an interest in it.