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    Wild Oats Continues Expansion of Henry's Farmers Markets

    BOULDER, Colo. -- Henry's Farmers Markets, a fresh foods grocery store chain owned by Wild Oats, will open its 24th store in Corona, Calif. Aug. 25 as part of an aggressive expansion schedule in the Southwest that includes five new stores this year and an additional 10 by the end of 2005.

    BOULDER, Colo. -- Henry's Farmers Markets, a fresh foods grocery store chain owned by Wild Oats, will open its 24th store in Corona, Calif. Aug. 25 as part of an aggressive expansion schedule in the Southwest that includes five new stores this year and an additional 10 by the end of 2005.

    The store, which is 24,000 square feet, is the first Henry's in the Riverside County area –- and Wild Oats sees the the location as a natural place for the banner. "The success of our stores in San Diego and Orange counties and the uniqueness of the retail concept give us confidence that these stores will do will in the greater Los Angeles area," Wild Oats dir. of corp. communications Sonja Tuitele told Progressive Grocer. "Riverside County, is the fastest-growing economy in California, with a population that has more than doubled in 20 years and is expected to grow by another 40 percent over the next 15 years."

    "Additionally," she continued, "There is a large population of higher-income and higher-educated residents in the area, which is a natural fit for the natural and organic specialty stores we operate. Finally, there are a lot of parks and open space in the area, which means people are interested in living a healthy lifestyle. and Henry's can support that with fresh, all-natural food."

    Henry's, which began in 1943 with the sale of a truckload of peaches on a San Diego street corner, is known for its locally grown, farm-fresh produce. The chain is a family of friendly, authentic farmers' market stores offering a shopping experience reminiscent of produce stands and neighborhood butchers of the 1950s.

    The new store features a design that captures the authenticity of the turn-of-the-century farmers' market. The decor, including hand-painted wooden signs recycled from a Civil War-era barn along the Mississippi River, corrugated metal finishes made from recycled tin, and real brickwork, complements the abundant displays of farm-fresh produce, and barrels filled with of bulk foods and all-natural grocery products.

    The new Henry's will offer more than 350 farm-fresh conventional and organic produce varieties with an emphasis on California-grown items. Said Tuitele, "The heart of Henry's is its produce department, and our stores receive deliveries of farm-fresh produce seven days a week from local growers. Henry's also offers all-natural groceries, fresh meat counters, delis, and a large vitamin department."

    It's the farmers' market format that separates Henry's from traditional Wild Oats units. "The way we describe the difference between Henry's and Wild Oats is that people enter a healthy lifestyle through two different shopping avenues: the old health food co-ops and farmers' markets," explained Tuitele. "Henry's is an indoor farmers' market with an expanded offering to be more of a one-stop shop, and Wild Oats is a modern-day organic and natural co-op that offers customers an elevated shopping experience with everything you'll find at your conventional grocery store, [only] all the products are natural, organic, and environmentally friendly."

    -- Joseph Tarnowski

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