Phoenix, Arizona-based Sprouts Farmers Market will open one of its first Atlanta area stores early next year in Snellville.
Sprouts will replace a shuttered Ethan Allen store in The Shoppes at Webb Gin (formerly The Avenue Webb Gin). The new store is expected to open this coming spring.
Sprouts is also reportedly in talks for an anchor space within Peachtree Corners Place. The project, being developed by Jeff Fuqua, is located on Peachtree Parkway, across from The Forum. The center will be built at the corner of Peachtree Parkway & Peachtree Corners Circle on vacant land, currently home to hundreds of trees.
Interestingly, Interlochen Shopping Center, adjacent to the planned Fuqua project, features a vacant grocery anchor space that once housed Bruno's and later drew interest from ALDI, but remains half vacant For now, OfficeMax occupies about half the space.
Sprouts, which went public earlier this year, has been scouting metro Atlanta since last fall and is looking at both new construction and backfilling existing space.
A well placed source also says Spouts will be the grocery anchor for the "Sandy Springs Gateway Project." The mixed use project on Roswell Road near Windsor Parkway will have a grocery anchor, office & retail space as well as hundreds of "upscale" apartments.
A total of four Sprouts Farmers Markets are expected to open next year with insiders saying that the company is targeting OTP cities like Johns Creek, Duluth and Alpharetta. Interestingly, Monrovia, California-based Trader Joe's has a total of six locations in metro Atlanta but is reportedly only pleased with the financial results of their two ITP locations, in Buckhead and midtown. Locations in Sandy Springs, East Cobb, Norcross (at The Forum) and Roswell reportedly do "ok" but not great. The company has publicly said it has no intention of openong any additional locations in metro Atlanta any time soon.
One intown location I think would make a great fit for Sprouts, should they explore ITP locations, is the current OfficeMax at Loehmann's Plaza on North Druid Hills at Briarcliff Road. OfficeMax recently agreed to merge with its larger competitor Office Depot, and as such is now in the process of closing underperforming and overlapping stores. Office Depot has a location not far from Loehmann's, at Toco Hill, and it will remain open.
I'm told The Fresh Market has, at least at some point, shown interest in the Loehmann's space, but as last I checked have removed themselves from the equation and may instead be exploring space in phase 2 of Emory Point.
Asheville, North Carolina-based Earth Fare also plans to enter the Atlanta market soon and is reportedly in talks for at least two intown locations. The company already has a presence in Georgia with locations in both Athens and Augusta.
It's worth noting that U.K.-based Tesco offloaded its fledgling U.S. grocery chain Fresh & Easy earlier this week. The chain, which Tesco built from scratch six years ago, was a money losing venture for the British grocery powerhouse and was essentially "given" to new owner, billionaire Ron Burkle via his Yucaipa Cos. private-equity fund. Insiders speculate and information recently uncovered would seem to support, the idea that Burkle plans to use the Fresh & Easy network of roughly 150 locations, all on the west coast, to relaunch Wild Oats.
Burkle was Wild Oats largest shareholder when the company agreed to be purchased by Austin-based Whole Foods Market in 2007. Due to antitrust issues, Whole Foods was forced to sell all Wild Oats intellectual property as well as a few stores. Burkle has reportedly partnered with Jim Keyes, former President and CEO of Blockbuster (who somehow owns the Wild Oats name), and plans to rebrand the Fresh & Easy stores under the Wild Oats banner in the coming months, with Keyes serving as the chain's CEO.
A new Wild Oats website is already live and thus far is only promoting private label grocery products like pasta sauces and crackers
All in all, despite Whole Foods Market clear perch at the top of the natural supermarket pyramid, other competitors gaining ground and giving consumers more options when it comes to eating healthy.
Where would you like to see a Sprouts or Earth Fare open?
If Wild Oats does make a comeback, do you think they will come to Atlanta?
Please share your thoughts below.