Category Archives: Grocery

GreenAcres Market finishes Whole Foods Association conversion with new signs

WICHITA — The final phase of converting Wichita’s Whole Foods Association stores to GreenAcres Markets is happening Wednesday when signs at the three stores will be replaced.

That includes the Whole Foods Association store in the Clear Lakes shopping center near the southwest corner of 21st and Amidon and the one near the southwest corner of 21st and Maize.

It also includes the Whole Foods Association store in Normandie at Central and Woodlawn. That sign had been looming over the center about three decades.

“It was there forever,” says GreenAcres owner Barb Hoffmann. “If you look at it, it looks like it was.”

In January, Hoffmann and her husband, John, purchased the Wichita Whole Foods Association stores, which have no affiliation with the larger Whole Foods Market, which opens Sept. 3 at the Waterfront at 13th and Webb.

In May, the Hoffmanns and Whole Foods Market announced that they struck a deal for the Austin-based chain to use the Whole Foods name here instead of the Bread & Circus name it looked like it might have to use.

Next up, Hoffmann says she has expansion and remodeling plans for most of her new stores.

She’s expanding the Clear Lakes store from 3,500 square feet to 6,500 square feet.

“We’ll start it here in the near future,” Hoffmann says. The idea, she says, is “just more offerings” for the neighborhood.

“It’s a real ethnic store. We’ll have a lot of ethnic items.”

The 6,000-square-foot far-west-side store will undergo an expansion next spring, though Hoffmann isn’t sure how much it will increase by yet.

Hoffmann says she’s also remodeling the 23,000-square-foot GreenAcres in Oklahoma City.

At the original GreenAcres at Bradley Fair, Hoffmann is remodeling the bathrooms but won’t do major remodeling until spring. For now, she’s focusing on the newer stores.

“We’re really thrilled we have these stores,” she says. “Every one has such a unique customer base, and we have just really enjoyed learning all the parts of the city.”

Whole Foods Magazine names GreenAcres Market 2014 Retailer of the Year

WICHITA — Diehard fans of GreenAcres Market have been concerned for the 20-year old, 7-store chain as major competitors such as Whole Foods Market and Natural Grocers have entered the area and smaller vitamin and supplement chains have expanded here.

Perhaps in a sign that it’s not going anywhere, though, GreenAcres has snared a major industry award from Whole Foods Magazine. The magazine, which has no relation to Whole Foods Market, has named GreenAcres the 2014 Retailer of the Year.


“We can’t believe we got it,” GreenAcres co-owner Barb Hoffmann says. “We didn’t have a clue we were even in the running.”

Hoffmann says the magazine is geared to 20,000 other stores like hers.

“It’s the No. 1 magazine in our industry,” she says. “Out of 20,000 stores, we were exceptionally excited.”

Hoffmann, who owns the store with her husband, John, daughter, Shannon, and store manager Matt Murray, didn’t set out to be in the natural foods business.

She and her husband own the plant store Tropical Designs, and some heavy lifting she did there along with in her personal life years ago injured her back.

“I started originally in this industry because I had a real pain problem, and so I got into alternative health and then that got us into natural food stores,” Hoffmann says.

“At that time, they were really big in supplements and you didn’t see that many groceries because here in the Midwest, we’re just a little slower than everybody else for people to catch on,” she says.

“Since I had lost my health … I started reading everything I could get my hands on. As I became knowledgeable, that’s one of the reasons we wanted to open (the store) because we wanted to help others.”

She says they did their homework.

“John and I traveled everywhere and looked at all the stores that have made a mark in our industry,” Hoffmann says.

“Our big dream was could we ever be that?” she says. “So we kept forging forward, and we got more and more into groceries. They started tasting better and better. We developed a real business because we had people coming in every day with gluten-free problems, with food sensitivities, and they were looking for answers, so that in turn sent us into discovering our real niche.”

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Whole Foods Market will be called that instead of Bread & Circus

UPDATED — As expected, Wichita will not have to live with the Bread & Circus name that drew so many complaints.

Its new Whole Foods Market at the Waterfront at 13th and Webb Road will be called by that name, which is what most people called it anyway.

As GreenAcres Market owner Barb Hoffmann hinted last month, she negotiated with the organic food chain over the name.

GreenAcres Market owners John and Barb Hoffmann are changing the names of their three Whole Foods Association stores to GreenAcres Market and letting Whole Foods Market at the Waterfront have that name.

GreenAcres Market owners John and Barb Hoffmann are changing the names of their three Whole Foods Association stores to GreenAcres Market and letting Whole Foods Market at the Waterfront have that name.

In January, Hoffmann purchased the Wichita Whole Foods Association stores, which have no affiliation with the larger chain.

“We have great respect for what Rene Shelton and her family have built under the Whole Foods Association name, and we don’t take that lightly,” Hoffmann said in a release. “This was a very hard decision, but we feel, moving forward, it is best for our customers to have a united offering and a unified GreenAcres brand. We are glad we reached an amicable agreement with Whole Foods Market and both parties are excited to turn more and more Wichita shoppers on to natural and organic foods and the quality products both our companies stand for.”

Hoffmann says she and Whole Foods Market each agreed not to say anything beyond what was in both of their news releases.

Three Whole Foods Association stores will change their names to GreenAcres by late summer. That includes stores in Normandie at Central and Woodlawn, in the Clear Lakes shopping center near 21st and Amidon and near 21st and Maize Road. Hoffmann already was in the process of changing two Health Food Center stores in Oklahoma to the GreenAcres name.

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Wichita’s Whole Foods Market may not have to be called Bread & Circus

breadncircusWICHITA — According to a poll so informal it probably shouldn’t be called a poll, it looks like the Bread & Circus name that Wichita’s new Whole Foods Market will go by here isn’t exactly being embraced.

Or, to be blunt, no one seems to like it – or actually call the store by that name.

There’s a glimmer of hope, though, for those who prefer the Whole Foods name.

The reason the Austin-based chain chose Bread & Circus, which was the name of some stores the company bought in 1992, is Wichita’s local Whole Foods Association already had the name here.

GreenAcres Market owner Barb Hoffmann purchased the Whole Foods Association stores in January, and it appears she’s now considering letting the larger Whole Foods chain have the name.

“I’m not able to say anything right now,” Hoffmann says.

She says she’ll likely be able to talk in a couple of weeks.

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Good Life Co.’s cookies go national

UPDATED — Even during the Good Life Co.’s humble beginnings – when Greg Cole was selling his Little Bits cookies at farmers markets – he knew he’d go national one day. He never thought it would be three years after starting his business, though.

“We’re actually two years ahead of our projected plan,” Cole says.

“We go national next month,” he says. “I never thought that we would get a national contract so soon.”

Cole’s specialty is seven-spice gourmet cookie. After farmers markets, he began selling to local stores, such as Green Acres MarketSpice Merchant & Co. and the local health store Whole Foods Association.

When Fresh Market opened at Bradley Fair in 2012, Cole began selling his cookies there.

“They weren’t expecting the cookie to do so well,” he says.

Then the Kansas City Fresh Market began selling the cookies.

Now, the chain is going to begin putting Little Bits in its other stores as well.

“It’s going to be a five-year project,” Cole says. “You can’t roll out to every store all at once. … That’s an ongoing process.”

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Daddy Jack’s Salsa is returning to Dillons

Jack and Bev Lee with jars of their Daddy Jack's Salsa.

Jack and Bev Lee with jars of their Daddy Jack’s Salsa.

WICHITA — It’s been a much longer wait than he anticipated, but Jack Lee says his Daddy Jack’s Salsa will be returning to Dillons stores shortly. He thinks it will be back in time for the Super Bowl.

“I’d rather have been there during the holidays, but we didn’t make it,” Lee says.

The salsa has been a fresh-from-the-tub staple at area Dillons deli departments since the late 1990s. Lee and his wife, Bev, would make and deliver it. They’re at retirement age, though, and thinking to the future. Over the summer, Lee told Have You Heard? he needed to make the salsa shelf stable in order for it to carry on.

Kansas City, Kan.-based Original Juan has created jarred versions of the mild and hot Daddy Jack’s Salsa.

“It’s really quite a laboratory,” Lee says.

“We were just extremely happy with the way it came out.”

He’s especially partial to the hot salsa.

“The hot turned out excellent. We were very happy about that.”

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Dillons to do fuel center at 21st and Amidon

WICHITA — As promised, Sheila Lowrie contacted Have You Heard? to say that yes, Dillons is putting a fuel center at its store at 21st and Amidon.

For a long time, it looked like the company was preparing to do a gas station there, but there was no confirmation.

First, Dillons demolished the former Twin Lakes Liquor store that was on the northeast corner of the intersection.

Then, Dillons employees at that store started telling customers that the station was coming, but still there was no official confirmation.

Now, Lowrie says Conco Construction will begin the project on Sept. 23. There will be seven fuel dispensers for 14 fueling positions. Look for the project to be completed in November.

Daddy Jack’s Salsa to become shelf stable and be back at Dillons stores soon

WICHITA — Daddy Jack’s Salsa, a fresh-from-the-tub staple at area Dillons deli departments since the late 1990s, is going away. Founder Jack Lee says it shouldn’t be for long, though.

“We might be kind of like Twinkies,” Lee says. “We’ll hopefully return at some time.”

Lee and his wife, Bev, began making their fresh salsa for Dillons a couple of years after Lee won a salsa competition in 1995. He’s been making salsa since 1972, though.

The 75-year-old says says he’s at retirement age now and is looking to the future.

“To continue the legacy, it’s going to have to be a shelf-stable product,” he says.

A Kansas City-area producer soon will begin cooking the Lees’ salsa, packaging it and delivering it to Dillons stores. Previously, the Lees made it fresh and delivered it to 18 Dillons stores themselves.

“We’ve been trying to get this done for several months,” Jack Lee says of the new arrangement.

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Checkers grocery store to close

WICHITA — Checkers, a longtime store in the Pawnee and Hydraulic area, is closing.

“The store is closing just due to economic conditions,” says Mike Collins, store manager.

The independent grocery, which is at 1915 E. Pawnee, has been open since 1987.

Collins won’t discuss who owns the store.

“We just don’t want to put that out there.”

The grocery leased the building. Collins isn’t sure what may take the store’s place or if there’s another tenant considering the space.

The store’s last day is May 28.

“Everything’s 30 percent off,” Collins says.

He won’t talk specifics on what happened to lead the store to close.

“The whole issue has just been the economy, and that’s just it,” Collins says. “That’s just about all we can say.”

Still no word on gas at 21st and Amidon

WICHITA — It’s still not certain that Dillons is adding a fueling center at its store at 21st and Amidon.

Last month, Have You Heard? reported when the company knocked down the former Twin Lakes Liquor building.

Dillons employees were telling customers a gas station was coming, but company spokeswoman Sheila Lowrie wasn’t available for comment.

Now she is, but she still can’t confirm what’s happening. As soon as she can, she says, we’ll be the first ones she tells.