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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Versona Accessories opens in Bradley Fair

WICHITA — Versona Accessories opens Thursday in 7,500 square feet next to Fresh Market at Bradley Fair.

In November, Have You Heard? reported that the store would take the last of the former Ultimate Electronics space.

Versona, which is owned by North Carolina-based CATO Corp., sells jewelry, sunglasses, handbags, scarves, belts, footwear and hair accessories.

There are about a couple of dozen of the stores nationally.

Versona joins Fresh Market, Soma Intimates and Apricot Lane Boutique as new additions to Bradley Fair in the last year.

Also, Howard’s Optique relocated next to Sephora to make room for another new tenant.

This has been a much-wanted store for Bradley Fair and a certain segment of the shopping market, and shoppers won’t have to wait much longer. Keep an eye on this space in the next week or two for the news.

Apricot Lane Boutique, a national chain, to open at Bradley Fair this spring

WICHITA — Along with tulips and daffodils popping up this spring, Wichita will have an apricot, too.

Apricot Lane Boutique, that is.

Wichitans Kami and Mark Murphy are opening a franchise of the California-based women’s boutique at Bradley Fair in March.

“The store is a fabulous women’s fashion boutique that is very unique,” says the chain’s founder and CEO Ken Petersen.

There are 82 Apricot Lanes in 30 states, and they’re known for having limited quantities– maybe only a couple of each size — of name-brand and nonbranded apparel.

“Customers love that,” Petersen says. He says they like knowing not everyone will be wearing what they’re wearing.

“Our product mix is fast, and it’s fresh, and it’s on trend, and it’s constantly changing,” he says.

Petersen calls the store a mother-daughter boutique that appeals to both age groups.

He says he’s found it to be even more than that.

“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen grandma, mom and daughter in the stores,” he says.

“I didn’t want to be a juniors retailer. We didn’t want to be a Talbots-type of retailer.”

There also will be shoes, jewelry, accessories and gifts in a variety of price points.

“We’re excited to bring something that’s so hip and also something that’s a little more affordable to Bradley Fair,” Kami Murphy says.

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Versona Accessories to open next to Fresh Market at Bradley Fair in early spring

WICHITA — Fresh Market, which opened at Bradley Fair in June, is getting a new neighbor.

Versona Accessories is taking the last of the former Ultimate Electronics space.

“Versona is a store that we have been interested in for quite some time,” says Cathy Erickson, vice president at Laham Development.

“They are in other lifestyle centers similar to Bradley Fair, and we feel they’re a great complement to our existing women’s fashion mix.”

Versona, which is owned by North Carolina-based CATO Corp., sells jewelry, sunglasses, handbags, scarves, belts, footwear and hair accessories.

Currently, there are 22 of the stores nationally.

Erickson says the quality of Versona’s merchandise sets it apart from some other popular accessory stores.

Versona will open in early spring in 7,500 square feet to the west of Fresh Market and employ about 25 people.

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Whole Foods Market to open in Wichita at the new Waterfront Plaza

UPDATED — A new phase of the Waterfront development will be the home of Whole Foods Market when it arrives in Wichita next year.

“It’s very big for us,” said Stephen Clark II, who is managing the project, of landing the organic and natural food chain.

“It could be beneficial for the whole market,” Clark said. He said retailers such as Whole Foods Market and the new Cabela’s that entered the market earlier this year attract other big names.

“The more of that you can get, the more interest there is from others.”

Clark’s father, Steve Clark, and fellow Waterfront developer Johnny Stevens are building a new 70,000-square-foot retail center called Waterfront Plaza on the northwest corner of 13th and Webb Road, which Stephen Clark says is part of the larger Waterfront development on the northeast corner.

Whole Foods will anchor the development with a 30,000-square-foot store that Clark said will open in November 2013.

“We just feel that it’s really going to pair well with the community,” said Ben Friedland, executive marketing coordinator of the Rocky Mountain region for Whole Foods Market.

“One of the things that we’re most excited about is we’re a very decentralized organization, which allows us to build stores that are very specific to the communities in which they live,” he said. He said the chain partners with local producers who meet Whole Foods Market standards to sell their items so the store is “going to be endemic to the community, and it’s going to take on its local flair and its local flavor.”

“We’re just really excited about the abundance of local products available.”

Friedland said the Austin-based chain, which has 325 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, has been looking at Wichita for a couple of years.

“It’s another feather in the cap of Wichita for bringing the big names that wouldn’t touch us two to five years ago,” said Don Piros of Landmark Commercial Real Estate. “It’s the domino effect. You bring one or two here, and the rest think, geez, maybe we should be here.”

Piros is handling leasing at the remaining 40,000 square feet at Waterfront Plaza in addition to retail and office leasing within the larger Waterfront area east of Webb Road. That includes a new 4.3 acre area under development north of Chester’s Chophouse & Wine Bar where two new office buildings are slated to be under construction soon.

Piros said he’s close on a few potential Waterfront Plaza tenants. Clark said landing Whole Foods helps.

“People want to be next to Whole Foods, and we expect a lot more activity out there.”

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Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage to construct community room

WICHITA — Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage has filed a building permit to do $120,000 in construction at its store at 1715 N. Rock Road, which opened last fall.

“It’s going to be a community space,” says Nancy Flynn, director of marketing for the Colorado-based chain.

“It is going to be, of course, for our customers to enjoy, to come in and relax.”

The store already has a meeting room, which groups can rent and nonprofits generally can use for free.

The community room has a few different purposes, Flynn says.

She says it will have free WiFi, coffee and tea and comfortable seating that encourages customers to drop by. Also, it will be plumbed to eventually have a demo kitchen. In the meantime, appliances and other things necessary for food demonstrations can be brought in.

Flynn says once the kitchen is installed, the store will offer cooking classes. Local chefs can also use the space for demonstrations, she says.

“We have the ability to really make it a fun event for them to do that,” Flynn says. “We will work with people. We really want them to come and enjoy this space.”

The store will offer nutrition classes as well, such as classes on living a gluten-free or dairy-free lifestyle.

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Fresh Market CEO has Wichita ties

WICHITA — Fresh Market president and CEO Craig Carlock has been coming to Wichita for years, but not to scout locations for the North Carolina-based grocery store, which opens at Bradley Fair June 20.

He’s been coming for family reunions.

His mother, Myrna, and his late father, Ron, were graduates of East High School.

Carlock’s grandmother, Margaret Iddings, still lives here.

So is Iddings responsible for the chain’s arrival in Wichita? Has she been pestering her grandson about finally bringing one?

“No, no, no, no,” Carlock says. “We’re coming for professional reasons.”

He says, though, “There’s an element of personal excitement here.”

Soma Intimates to open at Bradley Fair

WICHITA — Chico’s FAS Inc. is bringing another new store to Bradley Fair.

Almost seven years ago, the Florida-based Chico’s opened two brands – Chico’s and White House/Black Market – at the development.

Now, the company has plans to open Soma Intimates, which sells lingerie and sleepwear.

“Because the women of Wichita have embraced Chico’s and White House/Black Market, the company is eager … to bring Soma to Bradley Fair,” says Cathy Erickson, vice president at Laham Development.

The first Soma Intimates opened in 2004. Now there are almost 200 of the boutiques nationally.

The Bradley Fair store, which will be between Brick’s and Trio’s, will be 2,520 square feet.

“We’re taking excess space not being used by Brick’s and building that out for Soma,” Erickson says.

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You don’t say

“I may actually have to dress appropriately to go to the store now because everyone I know is going to be there.”

Laham Development vice president Cathy Erickson, who is considering ditching her sweats on June 20 when the new Fresh Market grocery store opens at Bradley Fair

Fresh Market at Bradley Fair to open this summer

WICHITA — Construction on the new Fresh Market grocery coming to Bradley Fair is “well under way,” says Cathy Erickson, vice president of Laham Development.

There’s still no opening date, but Erickson says it will be this summer.

The North Carolina-based chain is going in part of the former Ultimate Electronics space.

Erickson says Wichitans don’t know what to expect with the upscale grocery.

“It’s like this big present that is coming, and they get to open it and enjoy it, and they really don’t have any idea how great it is.”