Feb 01, 2016 08:40AM
● By Dia
Nourished and flourishing: Two words that can describe the people of Southlake and the city’s grocery scene, respectively. It’s hard to believe that a full year has gone by since we first detailed the differences of the specialty and natural foods grocers in the area. Sprouts, Whole Foods, Central Market, Trader Joe’s and The Fresh Market have all thrived in the past year, despite the competition that comes from selling their products to a similar market. We appreciate what these grocers bring to the community, so we checked in on them to see what they’re up to now and what’s in store for shoppers this year.
The City of Southlake is evolving in many ways—including its grocery scene. Longtime residents no doubt remember when Tom Thumb, Kroger and Albertson’s were the neighborhood stores. Those were the days of shopping with a long list and filling your cart with a week’s worth of groceries.
Times have changed, though. Albertson’s closed and Central Market came along with its upscale feel, gourmet offerings, in-store café and humongous parking lot. Then came Trader Joe’s, The Fresh Market and Whole Foods, each ushering in its own unique take on grocery shopping. Rather than stocking up with a full cart of food, shoppers can pop into one of the many area grocers for that organic artichoke pasta or Chanterelle mushrooms for dinner.
Wherever you fall on the grocery-shopping spectrum—if you like loading up once a week Costco-style or you prefer zipping in and out of a specialty grocer for a quick item or two—you have a bounty of options.
Central Market Southlake revisited
How Business Has Been: “Business continues to be strong at Central Market in Southlake,” says Paul Harty, General Manager. “Our store just celebrated its ninth anniversary. The growth and vibrancy that continues in the Southlake community has definitely added to our success. We have an extremely loyal customer base, yet we continue to see new customers exploring our store on a daily basis.”
Competitive Edge: Central Market focuses on a strong base of service-minded partners (employees), who are dedicated to promoting the store culture. “What makes the Central Market shopping experience different from others is our many approachable, engaging store partners who meet every customer wherever they are on their food journey,” says Harty. “Our partners are the cornerstone of the Central Market brand, and the relationships they develop with our cus- tomers continue to drive our success.”
What’s New: Many shopping events are planned for Central Market in 2016. This month the store will announce which country it will celebrate for its seventh annual Passport event, which starts the last week of April and goes through the first week of May. This annual event brings many world- renowned chefs, winemakers, products and dishes directly from the chosen country to the store, so you have the chance to try exotic food right here in town.
Trader Joe's Southlake revisitedHow Business Has Been: While Trader Joe’s declined to talk specifics (Alison Mochizuki, Director of Public Relations, says the store doesn’t discuss its business practices or sales), the Southlake community has embraced the arrival of this purveyor of novelty eats. Every time we stop in, the place is abuzz with foodies searching for that niche-y find. The Facebook page, Trader Joe’s Fan, has more than half a million likes. And one man is so passionate to bring Trader Joe’s products to Canada (there are no stores there), that he trucks items across the border and sells them in his own shop, Pirate Joe’s. Talk about a fan base.
Competitive Edge: Trader Joe’s is dedicated to providing high-quality, gourmet foods in a fun environment that can’t be found at other grocers. “Trader Joe’s considers itself the neighborhood grocery store,” says Mochizuki. “About 80 percent of what we sell is under our private label, which means it is free of artificial flavors, synthetic colors, preservatives and GMOs. We are thrilled to be a part of the Southlake neighborhood.”
What’s New: Up to a dozen new items a week are introduced at Trader Joe’s to keep your palate satisfied. These can be anything under the delicious Trader Joe’s brand name, such as snacks, healthy food or desserts. It’s almost like going to a new store every time you walk in. One of our favorite new items to hit the freezer is the Trader Jacques Tarte à l’Oignon (Alsatian-Style Onion Tarte). It’s rich and buttery, like something you’d find at the finest French bakery.
Sprouts Farmer's Market Southlake revisited
How Business Has Been: “People in Southlake have really taken to Sprout’s unique approach of healthy living for less,” says Diego Romero, a spokesperson for the grocer. “We’ve had a great year and have exceeded the forecasts. It’s true that people are more concerned about the quality of food they consume and share with their family. Sprouts has become a regular shopping destination for the area, and we see that trend continuing in 2016, especially when local roadwork is complete.” Sprouts has plans to indeed sprout; it hopes to grow from its current 216 stores to 1,200 stores in 15 years. This would make it three times as big as Whole Foods, which currently has more than 400 stores, according to MarketRealist.com.
Competitive Edge: Sprouts offers a wide selection of fresh, natural and organic foods at great prices, which helps it stand out from the rest. “We lead with produce and our shoppers recognize unbeatable prices by coming back week after week,” says Romero. “In addition to low prices, Sprouts offers an extensive amount of Sprouts-brand products, which meet strict quality standards. We also continue to add Non-GMO Project Verified and USDA Certified Organic products.”
What’s New: Sprouts Vitamin and Body Care Extravaganza. Consider this your chance to load up on supplements and natural bodycare items at discounted prices.
Whole Foods Market Colleyville revisited
How Business Has Been: “Business has definitely been good for us in the past year,” says Bryan Baumann, Team Leader for the Colleyville store. “We are right on track with what they have been projecting for us, so we are very excited about that.” While it’s good news that our local store is faring well, the company as a whole didn’t have a stellar year last year. Shares of Whole Foods’ stock declined nearly 40 percent, according to CNBC, and the retailer is cutting its staff by 1.6 percent in an effort to lower prices and better compete in the industry.
Competitive Edge: Whole Foods Market has eco-friendly standards for ingredients and products to provide shoppers with the freshest and most natural food. “Quality is our number one concern in every single thing that we offer at Whole Foods,” says Baumann. “Our strict policies on what we allow and don’t allow to be sold in our stores differentiates us from the rest. Everything in our store has to meet a certain standard before it can be put on the shelves, which means customers only get the highest quality foods available. Purchasing our products also means that you our supporting local growers, vendors and artisans.”
What’s New: The Colleyville store hosts five or more events per month to get the community involved. These events are a fun way to bond while trying products offered at Whole Foods. For example, Friday Pint Nights is an opportunity to sample beer from different breweries, and Kids Club Storytime is a chance for little ones to hear a story, make a craft and eat a snack. These events vary by month.
The Fresh Market Southlake revisited
How Business Has Been: “We opened in Southlake last January because we knew it was a market where shoppers have a passion for great food,” says Katie Georges, Marketing Manager at The Fresh Market. “We look forward to continuing to serve the Southlake community with our unique shopping experience.” While we’re glad The Fresh Market opened its doors in Southlake, the company’s overall outlook isn’t particularly rosy. It reported a 33-percent slide in profit in the third quarter of last year, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Competitive Edge: The Fresh Market is dedicated to creating an intimate shopping experience unlike other industrialized grocery stores. “We have a distinctive concept that sets us apart from other food retailers,” says Georges. “With our smaller footprint, shoppers can enjoy the convenience of being able to navigate our store quickly. And, the atmosphere of our stores is unique. With soft lighting and classical music, shopping for food is a wonderful, pleasant experience. Whether you are coming in for a few items or a full shopping list, we strive to make your shopping experience enjoyable and convenient.”
What’s New: Every Thursday of each month, The Fresh Market offers convenient, grab-and-go solutions for preparing a home-cooked meal as part of its Little Big Meal program. You can whip up a delicious dinner for your family by purchasing handpicked ingredients here. It’s just as convenient as going through a drive-thru line—and definitely healthier.