Friday, January 11, 2019

Rainy Day in Decatur as Rainbow Natural Foods Confirms It's Closing After More Than Four Decades

Rainbow Natural Foods, which first opened its doors in Atlanta in 1976, informed employees recently they will close permanently.  The independent grocery, which has served the Decatur area for more than four decades and predates even the first ever Whole Foods Market by four years, co-anchors North Decatur Plaza at the intersection of Clairmont and North Decatur Roads.  
ToNeTo Atlanta was made aware of the imminent closure Wednesday afternoon and its closure was confirmed by both a store employee, and Friday morning, by a post from our friends at Decaturish.  

"We have always felt that being considered a community Institution by folks in our area is one of the highest compliments Rainbow can receive," the company said via email to Decaturish.   

According to the Decaturish post, the store is to close "sometime in February," but an employee reached at the store Friday morning was a little more vague saying "we're not sure, we don't have a date yet, it could be February, it could be March, we really don't know."  

For now, the store is offering 10% off all purchases of in-stock merchandise.  

The closure of Rainbow is yet another blow to the local independent grocer market, still reeling, some might say, from the November 2014 closure of Return To Eden after more than two decades in business.  The 7,500 square foot Return To Eden opened in 1993 in Cheshire Square at the corner of Cheshire Bridge & LaVista Roads, and like Rainbow, was a community institution for those seeking natural and organic foods. 

Return to Eden cited a number of issues that contributed to the decision to close.  "While we were on a tentative path to recovery, this year has proved too difficult for us — the brutal winter, the changing traffic patterns in the neighborhood, increased competition in the Atlanta marketplace, and escalating operational costs and needs, etc., all took their toll."     

ToNeTo Atlanta encourages Rainbow patrons to support other Atlanta area independent and organic markets such as Nuts'n'Berries (Brookhaven), Sevananda (Little Five Points) and Your DeKalb Farmers Market (Decatur).  

Now owned by Amazon and growing increasingly less interested in "the little guy," [Read: Cancelled Whole Foods contract leads to bankruptcy for Atlanta yogurt purveyor], ToNeTo Atlanta reported this past November that Whole Foods plans to close their Briarcliff Road store this coming April.  

Whole Foods did recently open their new "365" store at North Decatur Square, a new development along North Decatur Road near Church Street, but as many ToNeTo Atlanta readers have said in comments, it's not the same, and it's not as convenient to those near the closing Briarcliff store.  

The 5,562 square foot Rainbow store is the second largest space in the North Decatur Plaza after anchor Mattress Firm, which operates a large format 10,800 square foot "Super Center."  Mattress Firm, reeling from changes in buying habits, the rise in online mattress purchasing and a real estate fiasco, has announced hundreds of store closures, but thus far has not indicated that the North Decatur would be affected.

The center, though, has in recent years witnessed a number of longtime tenants call it quits.  

McMahan Shoes, which as a local business dates back to 1948, closed in the center in August 2016.  Later, in September of the same year, The Camera Doctor closed in North Decatur Plaza where it had operated for more than 25 years.  

Used sporting goods retailer Play it Again Sports relocated from North DeKalb Mall to the former McMahan Shoes space in May of 2017, while soon HOTWORX, a new yoga studio franchise, will open in the old Camera Doctor space.  A lease with a Mexican restaurant to open in the space never came to fruition as had been expected, and the space remained vacant until the lease with HOTWORX last summer.  

Are you surprised by the decision to close Rainbow Natural Foods?  Where do you prefer to shop for natural and organic merchandise in metro Atlanta?  What would you like to see open in place of Rainbow Natural Foods?

Please share your thoughts below  


Elaine Beaty said...

I am absolutely devastated by the closing of Rainbow Grocer Natural Foods. I have been going there for forty-two years. At this point I'm most concerned for their long-time employees What will they do? I so hope they will be well-treated.

Elaine Beaty

Unknown said...

This is like suddenly hearing that your family Doctor is dead. Such sad news. Great store and such personal service. Best wishes to the owner (and staff). Will be surely missed by all!

Ed DeLeon said...

This is such a travesty!! I am really beginning to dislike the internet and Amazon but moreso Whole Foods. These behemoths are like a virus, destroying everything in their path putting many Mom and Pop, Local and Neighborhood grocers and other retailers out of business.

Competition isn't ALWAYS a great thing or the end all be all in this ever changing world we live in!!

While I profess that I haven't been to Rainbow in many years the last time I went I had a very memorable meal in the cafe in the back after getting my food from the hot buffet in the back.

The food was amazing and I loved the ambiance!! I'm devastated by this happening as I was thinking about going there not long ago.

Does anyone know if they have actually closed yet??

Elizabeth said...

I'm shocked and devastated! I wish they would open somewhere else. Where will I ever be able to find the foods and cosmetics I have relied upon Rainbow Grocery to provide?

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