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.”

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

SpaRenity Nails & Organics to open in same Waterfront center as Bread & Circus

pedi1WICHITA — In keeping with the organic theme of the Waterfront’s new Whole Foods Market, which will go by Bread & Circus in Wichita, a new spa and salon featuring organic products is opening in the same center.

Wichitan Kevin Tuan and his family own four salons around Wichita, but now he’s branching out on his own for two more, including the one at the northwest corner of 13th and Webb.

His first SpaRenity Nails & Organics will have a grand opening Sunday at 3750 N. Woodlawn.

Tuan says this will be a smaller spa, offering pedicures, manicures and facials, than the one he’ll open at the Waterfront. That one also will include massage.

Tuan says he wants to see how the first one goes and make adjustments for the Waterfront site.

The Woodlawn spa is opening in the former Golden Nail space.

“Everything’s brand new,” Tuan says.

Read More »

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.”

Read More »

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.”

Read More »

Could Whole Foods be a possibility for Wichita in the next few years?

WICHITA — It may not happen next year — or even the next few years — but there’s hope Wichita could one day have a Whole Foods Market.

The grocery chain ranked No. 6 in a 2010 Wichita Eagle survey of what Wichitans want.

A Reuters story this week quotes Walter Robb, co-CEO of the Austin-based chain, as saying he expects there to one day be 1,000 Whole Foods stores nationally.

Currently, there are about 300.

The story says, “The upheaval in the commercial property market has created opportunities for companies looking to expand, and Whole Foods has identified locations where it ‘can put some bets down and take advantage of that.’ ”

Robb added that the company has “some contingency plans so that if we needed to, we could slow down.”

We’ll let you know if it looks like the company might take a bet on Wichita.