Fresh Market to open in former Ultimate Electronics space at Bradley Fair

WICHITA — Wichitans have long wanted a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s, but the city instead is likely getting a grocery store many people didn’t even know to wish for.

No one with Fresh Market is commenting yet, but it looks like the Greensboro, N.C.-based grocery chain will be opening in the former Ultimate Electronics space at Bradley Fair next year.

Ray and Beverly Berry started the company, which is now publicly traded, in Greensboro in 1982. According to Fresh Market’s website, the store was “the fulfillment of a dream” to recreate the feeling of European open-air markets.

“The small store with loose produce, vitamins, bulk foods and freshly roasted coffee in bins stood in stark contrast to conventional grocery stores at the time where foods had increasingly become industrialized and the stores bigger and sterile,” the site says.

Today, the chain has about 120 stores open or in the process of opening. The heaviest concentration of stores is in the southeast. The closest to Wichita looks to be the Fresh Market in Little Rock. Wichita’s store appears to be the farthest west the chain will have come yet.

These days, customers can sip coffee samples and listen to classical music as they peruse Fresh Market, which is substantially smaller than the average grocery store yet still seems to have a large collection of groceries from which to choose.

There’s an always-on-call meat department that’s reminiscent of an old-style butcher shop, which features sometimes hard-to-find cuts of meat. There’s a seafood department that receives up to six shipments a week.

Bulk food items include dried fruit, granola, more than 40 snack mixes and as many as 30 types of nuts.

There’s also a candy department, floral shop, deli counter, produce department, which features some organic items, more than 30 offerings of international coffee beans and more than 200 kinds of domestic and imported cheese among other things.

Fresh Market sells prepared foods as well, including rotisserie chicken, kabobs, sandwiches, soup and salad.

The website says the store sells beer and wine, but that likely won’t be an option here.

The site says perishable items are available unpackaged if customers prefer.

It’s not clear when the new store will open, but it sounds like the deal is done so more news should be coming soon.