Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Fresh Market to Close Brookhaven and Snellville Stores Amidst Ongoing "Turnaround Plan"

The Fresh Market announced plans late Monday to shutter fifteen stores across nine states as they continue what the release announcing the closures referred to as a "turnaround plan." Two of the fifteen stores slated to close are in metro Atlanta, one in Brookhaven, the other in Snellville.  According to its website, the Greensboro, NC-based retailer currently operates 176 stores in 24 states .
The Fresh Market at Brighten Park 

Emails sent to patrons of the two Atlanta area stores explained that the stores would close early Monday (4PM) to prepare for a liquidation sale that would begin Tuesday morning.  Customers are invited to enjoy 25% off all in-stock alcohol and 30% off everything else in the store.

Private equity firm Apollo Global Management acquired The Fresh Market, Inc. in April 2016 in a deal valued at $1.36 billion.  This past fall, Larry Appel, a veteran of both Winn-Dixie Stores and The Home Depot, was named President and CEO of The Fresh Market.  The combination of the company's privatization by Apollo and installation of the new CEO have reportedly led to a lot of changes, many not for the better within the organization, including a number of long-time staff resigning, according to sources.  (There are also rumors that the company may be on the verge of closing all stores.)  

The two Atlanta area stores are quite new with the Brookhaven store having opened in July 2015, and the Snellville store in March 2016.  Both stores featured the grocer's latest store design with improved lighting, more offerings and increased prepared and grab-and-go items.  A number of the other stores slated for closure were recently opened, too, including those in North Charlotte, NC (November 2014), Hendersonville, TN (March 2016) and Winchester,VA (August 2016.)  

The Brookhaven store, which measures 24,625 square feet, opened in place of Loehmann's, which closed all of its stores nationwide in early 2014.  The shopping center, known for many years of Loehmann's Plaza, was rechristened "Brighten Park," in advance of the grocer's debut.  In addition to a complete renovation and reconfiguration of the parking lot and access to the center, Regency Centers, the property's owner, secured leases with a number of new tenants, Zo√ęs Kitchen, Grub Burger Bar, Boardroom Salon for Men, Corepower Yoga and junior anchor Tuesday Morning, among them.


Regency Centers was so pleased with the re-positioning of the center that it highlighted it in a  "Success Story" profile where it referred to it as a "beloved neighborhood center" with "a bright future."  Now the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) must go back to the drawing board for a suitable replacement for The Fresh Market.  

While Regency is no doubt disappointed in the closure of The Fresh Market, the soon-to-be vacant anchor space may provide a unique opportunity for an unlikely retailer: Publix.  The Florida-based grocer announced plans last year to re-launch their "GreenWise" stores, and has already officially confirmed at least three, one of which is within a Regency Centers property in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.  GreenWise stores stock large amount of Publix private label brand GreenWise, but also other organic and healthy products.  The 21,535 square foot Greenwise store at Indigo Square in South Carolina will anchor the repositioned center and is expected to open early next year.  

Although the company has not officially confirmed it, sources close to the situation indicate GreenWise will anchor a new Fuqua Development project on Sandy Plains Road in East Cobb.  Publix has previously indicated they intend to add additional GreenWise stores, and sources say they are actively scouting existing markets such as metro Atlanta for new stores.  

Regency has a history of securing some improbable anchors for some of its vacant anchor space in metro Atlanta. 

As ToNeTo Atlanta previously reported, Regency will add 365 by Whole Foods Market to its Paces Ferry Plaza shopping center in Buckhead.  The new Whole Foods concept will occupy a newly created anchor space in the center also home to Pero's Pizza, Houston's and Blue Ridge Grille, among other tenants.  The 29,740 square foot store is expected to open late this year.  

In Powers Ferry Square, Regency was to have welcomed North Carolina-based Southern Season, a Fresh Market+Williams-Sonoma-like retailer, but the retailer canceled their plans in 2016 amidst a chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.  In place of the would be Southern Season, Regency secured a lease with HomeGoods which will occupy 21,296 square feet and local fitness facility BURN to occupy the remaining 4,688 square feet.  BURN opened late last year and HomeGoods is expected to debut next month.   

Scenic Promenade, the Scenic Highway shopping center where The Fresh Market's 21,000 square foot Snellville store is located, opened in 2016 and is also home to a relocated Best Buy as well as a HomeGoods store, among other tenants.  The center was developed by Maxie Price Jr. and according to a listing on LoopNet, is currently being marketed for sale for an undisclosed price.  Newmark Knight Frank is handling the center's sale and proudly promotes it as being "grocery-anchored" with "secure income."  
The Snellville location of The Fresh Market 
Given that Sprouts Farmers Market already operates a store in The Shoppes at Webb Gin nearby and the unliklihood that either Whole Foods/365 or Trader Joe's would have interest in the area, the chances of a new grocer replacing The Fresh Market are pretty slim.   

Following the closures, The Fresh Market will operate thirteen stores in Georgia and Virginia making them tied for the third most by state, following Florida (46) and North Carolina (21). The closures of four stores in Illinois halve the grocer's presence there, and two closures in Wisconsin eliminate the grocer from The Badger State.  The Fresh Market previously pulled out of both California and Texas.

Sprouts Farmers Market, which entered the Atlanta market in 2014 with a store in Snellville, has grown their presence to now eclipse that of The Fresh Market with a total of seventeen stores in the Peach State.  Earth Fare, which opened a store at Emory Point on the same day in July 2015 that The Fresh Market opened at Brighten Park, already closed their store as well as one in Peachtree Corners.  Both stores shuttered this past March, in addition to a couple of others in the region, as the North Carolina-based chain trimmed its store count. 

Among the thirteen stores The Fresh Market will continue to operate in metro Atlanta area are two in Buckhead, one on Peachtree Road just south of Peachtree Battle, another on Roswell Road near Chastain Park, as well as stores in Dunwoody, East Cobb, Alpharetta and one in Roswell that opened in late 2015 in a former Staples.  

Are you surprised by the closures of so many The Fresh Market stores?  What would you like to see open in place of the closing The Fresh Market stores?  Where do you do most of your grocery shopping?

Please share your thoughts below.  

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Peachtree City has a fresh market as well....

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't be a bad spot for a Trader Joe's though thats a little more square footage than their typical store. It would fill a little bit of a hole in their atlanta foot print and be more of a fit for their customer profile than fresh market was for the area. I'm still not sure I understand what customer Fresh Market is trying to cater to. I stop into the Dunwoody store from time to time and walk out usually with not a lot more than maybe a package of cookies just to feel like a bought something. It just feels even less useful than a Whole Foods and most of what they carry has a lot of overlap now with Sprouts in the market. Sprouts stores are much bigger, brighter and carry a much wider range of products. The Dunwoody Sprouts is always busy. You could *almost* use Sprouts as a day to day grocery store.

Anonymous said...

I second the Trader Joe's comment - please come to Brookhaven!

Anonymous said...

@ 1:37 PM Just STOP with the begging. MOVE if you want to be close to one. That goes for Whole Paycheck as well. They build in affluent areas and know their target demographics. Those of lesser means will travel to these destination grocers.

Anonymous said...

Snellville north of US 78 use to be a nice area but that is rapidly changing. Gwinnett used to be great

Anonymous said...

Where is it in Brookhaven? I live in Brookhaven and go to the Dunwoody store! Doh!

Anonymous said...

May I ask why you think Whole Foods/365 and Trader Joe’s would be uninterested in Snellville? I think Snellville would be the perfect area for a Trader Joe’s, and the shopping plaza that Fresh Market is vacating is very busy.

Anonymous said...

That is not Brookhaven. North Druid Hills or Lavista-Briarcliff more like it. Just saying.

Anonymous said...

It's in the shopping center next to Tuesday Morning on North Druid Hills rd. Didn't know that was considered Brookhaven either

Anonymous said...

@ 9:15 PM Demographics.

Skrybe said...

I have no idea why either Trader Joe's or Whole Foods wouldn't be interested in taking the Snellville spot. TJ has zero presence on this side of town, with the closest one being in Norcross, so it would be very welcome.

Whole Foods might not be as interested, due to their usual price range. They'd run into the same issue that The Fresh Market just ran into. However they have the Amazon connection now. So you've got Best Buy essentially next door, and a ton of their customers are big time Amazon customers (typically), so they could potentially see a good amount of crossover in that (I'll admit) very specific area. It could work, but I'd be more excited to see a Trader Joe's there than a Whole Foods.

Anonymous said...

Coming from someone who has always loved Fresh Market, I have not liked the changes since they sold. It has lost its artisan feel and feels more commercial (for example, selling Pillsbury cake mix... that isn't what you go to TFM for). I do not go nearly as often as I used to. I do love their bulk bins and roasted chicken salad! Hoping these closures aren't a sign of more to come.

Anonymous said...

Everyone wants a Trader Joe's but word is they're not going to build any more in the Atlanta market as sales at their existing stores' sales figures are disappointing. I think they would do great business at Briarcliff/North Druid. I live in a condo development and always see TJ's stuff in the recycle bin, so I'm not the only one traveling a fair distance to shop there. I was excited when Earth Fare and Fresh Market both opened up in the neighborhood around the same time, but was soon disappointed in both. Sky high prices in both cases and I stopped bothering with either once the novelty wore off. Now they're both belly up. As for a replacement I'm thinking maybe Aldi? Their Buford Hwy. store isn't that close and they're going into Buckhead. Too bad Lidl is fizzling in the US. Really nice stores and it would be great to have one. Maybe Publix Greenwise (zzzz) or yet another Sprouts, which hasn't crashed and burned - yet. Whole Foods 365 is, I think, a concept that Amazon isn't very committed to and it predates the acquisition.

Anonymous said...

LOL - TJ and WF are NOT going to go into a market like Snailville GA where TFM has failed. South Gwinnett is a declining market with sinking demographics and TFM OBVIOUSLY did not do their research / due diligence very well. Go to Norcross for your Trader Joe's fix because that is as close as you are ever going to be to one. Trader Joe's is about living to eat (conspicuous consumption).

Proud to say I only stepped foot in a Trader Joe's one time and walked out with nothing. They are overrated, even if they were my neighbor and helped my real estate values.

Unknown said...

I wish they would put a Trader Joes in every friggin' city so I can stop reading comments about it.

BTW - this is not Brookhaven. It is still Atlanta, unincorporated DeKalb. Quite misleading to keep calling the Brighten Park store Brookhaven.

Eric Smith said...

The City of Brookhaven annexed the area which includes the shopping center where TFM is currently located. This was part of the deal which brought Childrens Health Care of Atlanta to the site over-looking I-85. CHOA wanted to be in a city with a specified number of police officers allocated to the area. The Brookhaven PD increased their total force as a result. Agree that is not really "Brookhaven".

Anonymous said...

When I go to Trader Joe's in Los Angeles, it's like a strange cult-like religion out there. I'm not sure why. Land is cheaper here, we have plenty of huge Krogers and Publix, and it doesn't hold the same allure here. So people can stop wishing TJ's would come to their neighborhood.

I've been in TFM in Dunwoody once or twice, and was very underwhelmed, maybe part of the problem is it still has a dull, dark look to it. We mostly go to Kroger, some bogo items from Publix, some random things from Aldi, and a few things from costco.

Unrelatedly, I think all grocery stores should use those 'quarter carts' like Aldi. I'm sick of finding kroger carts at every bus stop near my house.

Anonymous said...

Just for those uninformed, that shopping center is actually incorporated in the City of Brookhaven, along with Executive park behind it.

Sanni said...

When will it close I want my 30% off everything? Can I get as case of wine???

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I'm not surprised at the closure: the customer service was terrible.

I was a fan of their grab-and-go items, buying them just about every weekend - and 75% of the time, I would stand waiting at the counter while an employee may have acknowledged me with, "I'll be with you in a minute..." and made me continue to wait while they finished doing whatever it was they were doing, rather than interrupting what they were doing and offering to help me.

Then when they finally did get to me, there was was an attitude of inconvenience/"you're interrupting me...".

That, or I'd be standing there waiting while employees who apparently worked in other departments walked by and didn't bother acknowledging me with a simple, "Let me find someone to help you..."

Three times I walked out without buying anything.

I complained directly to the manager once - she said she was sorry and would "have a discussion" with the department - but the next weekend, same experience. Sometimes I wondered if they were understaffed.

Given the location, traffic, and product mix, there is really no reason for their lack of success - I really think they failed because of their lousy customer service - too many options in their radius to put up with it.

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