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A familiar name in natural food retailing, Alfalfa’s, will make its return later this month when the newly formed retailer’s first store opens on Earth Day, April 22, at Broadway and Arapahoe in Boulder, Colo., the site of the first Alfalfa’s store.
Founded as Pearl Street Market in Boulder in 1979, Alfalfa’s Market grew to be one of the nation’s leading-edge natural products retailers throughout the 1980s and 1990s. With 11 stores and an iconic reputation for being a community gathering place filled with an infectious passion for natural and organic foods, Alfalfa’s Market was acquired by Wild Oats Markets in 1996. Now, 15 years after the merger, Mark Retz off, an original Alfalfa’s founder; Barney Feinblum; Hugo van Seenus; and Jimmy Searcy have resurrected the Alfalfa’s name.
“Since we received the approval to purchase this store last June, we’ve been working hard to bring the people of Boulder the best the world has to offer in organic and natural foods,” said Retzloff, co-founder and chairman of Alfalfa’s. “We’ve completely remodeled the store and have hired an all-star team of nearly 200 staff. We can’t wait to open our doors to the public on Earth Day, which is a symbolic day considering Alfalfa’s history and commitment to sustainable agriculture.”
While organic and local are the key areas of focus of the store, “We have the full array of departments -- produce, grocery, bulk foods, frozen, dairy, meat and seafood,” explained Alfalfa’s spokesperson Sonja Tuitele. The store also will present a wide variety of prepared foods, fresh-made sushi, on-site scratch bakery and juice and coffee bars, as well as the only wine, beer and spirits shop in a grocery store in Boulder. Additionally, the new Alfalfa’s wellness department will be well-stocked with vitamins, minerals, supplements and all-natural body care products.
“The store has approximately 20,000 square feet of selling space,” Tuitele told Progressive Grocer. “We added about 4,000 square feet to the original retail space to accommodate a larger café and prepared foods area, as well as a wine, beer and spirits shop.”
In addition to Retzloff, Feinblum, Van Seenus and Searcy – Alfalfa’s founders and long-time pioneers in the organic and natural products community – the new store is staffed with many familiar faces in the local organic foods scene, including:
Norm Everhart, VP of store development and construction, brings 30 years of experience building and designing retail spaces to Alfalfa’s. Everhart held senior management positions in store design and facilities management at Haggen, Supervalu and Mrs. Gooch’s Natural Food Markets.
Paul Gingerich, director of meat and seafood, started his career with Alfalfa’s in the early days when they chain made news by becoming one of the first stores to incorporate meat departments into what had traditionally been vegetarian “health food” stores in the 1980s. A foremost expert on all-natural meat and seafood, Gingerich worked up through the stores and became VP of meat and seafood at Wild Oats Markets, and then went on to run the meat business for Albert’s Organics before returning to Alfalfa’s.
Dale Kamibayashi, director of purchasing, was the original store director at this Alfalfa’s location in 1983. He stayed on with Alfalfa’s through the Wild Oats merger and, after leaving Wild Oats in 1999, worked for several leading natural and organic foods companies, including Small Planet Foods, Rapunzel and Ceres Organics.
Stacee McGovern, director of marketing, started her 15-year natural foods retail career at Wild Oats. She has since held marketing positions at leading food retail brands, including Noodles & Co. and Whole Foods Market.
Tim Overlie, store director, has spent more than 30 years in the natural, organic and specialty foods retail industry. He started with Alfalfa’s in 1983 at the Broadway and Arapahoe store, and continued his career in key operations and buying positions at Wild Oats. Most recently, he was CEO of Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy.
J.P. Patrick, director of culinary services, manages the prepared foods, bakery, coffee and juice bar departments. He comes to Alfalfa’s with more than 15 years of culinary and product development experience. JP is an award-winning chef who has served as director of culinary research and development for leading food service companies, including Udi’s Handcrafted Foods, Noodles & Co., American Blue Ribbon Holdings and Yoshida Foods.
“At Alfalfa’s, service comes first and we believe the quality, knowledge and energy of the people we hire will help make our retail experience distinct and enjoyable for our community,” said Retzloff. “That’s why we’ve taken extra care in bringing in an experienced management staff, and in training our store employees so they are ready to serve and to share their passion when we open our doors on Earth Day. It was this passion and our support of the local community that made Alfalfa’s special before, and will make us special again – 32 years after we opened our first store.”
Alfalfa’s has made it a priority to work with many Boulder-based companies in the development and construction of its store. This support includes local design firm, CommArts, PEH Architects and general contractor, Deneuve Construction.
For more information, visit www.alfalfas.com.