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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Natural Grocers By Vitamin Cottage will be a full-scale grocery store with a deli

UPDATED — The new Natural Grocers By Vitamin Cottage that’s coming to the former Borders Books space at 1715 N. Rock Road will be a complete grocery store in addition to a vitamin shop.

“A great many of our customers do just that — they only shop for groceries at our stores,” says co-president Kemper Isely.

“We offer our products at everyday affordable pricing.”

The Denver-area family business started in 1955. When it opens here Dec. 13, the Wichita store will be the company’s 51st.

The chain used to be called Vitamin Cottage.

“Since we sell more groceries, we changed our name,” Isely says.

He says the company sells only 100 percent organically grown produce and fresh and frozen meat that is hormone and antibiotic free. Also, he says, there’s a line of frozen natural foods in addition to 100 percent organic produce and bulk items.

“We do it a little bit differently,” Isely says of the bulk items.

They’re prepackage to avoid contamination, he says.

“We also refrigerate all our nuts and seeds and flours that can go rancid.”

The store will be 24,000 square feet. About 1,500 of that will be for a seminar room, which Isely says nonprofits can use for free.

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