Two dozen angry residents from Seattle's Wedgwood neighborhood descended upon QFC offices in Bellevue yesterday to give petitions and a promise to company President Mike Huse.
Rhonda Spangler said the petitions were filled with signatures representing 10,000 people concerned that their independent neighborhood grocery, Matthew's Red Apple Market on 35th Avenue Northeast, will be replaced by a QFC.
Matthew's Red Apple has been a Wedgwood fixture for the past 10 years.
But the store is not expected to receive a new lease, and QFC has signed a rental agreement with property owner Wes Williams.
Spangler, spokeswoman for Save Matthew's Red Apple, said the group will boycott all QFC stores if the company doesn't abandon its plans to locate in Wedgwood.
A boycott could cost QFC $10 million in lost sales during the first year alone, Spangler predicted. "We can assure you that this amount will grow," she said.
QFC officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Protesters said their letters, faxes and phone calls to the company have not been answered, and it appeared QFC would renege on a promise to abandon its plan to locate in Wedgwood if it caused controversy.
"They have not backed off, and the community protest has become larger," said Wedgwood resident Carol Nelsen. "We also have other shops in that same shopping center where leases are coming up. They're going to be next.
"If we are unable to save Matthew's, we're not going to quit because we still want to keep those (stores) that are there."
Wedgwood residents said a new QFC isn't needed because, within a two-mile radius, there are QFC stores in the Roosevelt, Northgate, University Village and Lake City neighborhoods.
"We don't need another one," Nelsen said.
"What we want is choice," Sue Higbee added.
The group waited, at times impatiently, for Huse or a spokesman to come to the lobby and accept the thick black binder filled with petitions. After 15 minutes, the crowd moved outside.
Thirty minutes later, group members called an end to the protest but said they would circulate petitions during the grand opening of a QFC in Lynnwood this morning.