Natural foods grocery opens at Emory Point

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When Earth Fare, a 40-year-old organic and natural foods grocery chain, opened its first urban store July 8 at Emory Point, the store was packed with shoppers within minutes of the 7 a.m. opening. The crowd included patrons who had waited hours.

“The first customer was here at 3:30 a.m. She wanted to be the first, and she made it,” explained Earth Fare President and CEO Frank Scorpiniti. The first 100 guests were given “mystery” gift cards of varying values—one was worth $500. “They were all gone in the first 10 minutes.

“This is an ideal location for our first urban store,” said Scorpiniti, who explained that other stores in the approximately 37-store chain are all in suburbs. “It’s in a vibrant health-conscious community near Emory University, Emory Hospital and the CDC. Our real estate team searched for just the right location before deciding this was it.” Emory Point is a mixed-use development with 80,000 square feet of retail space and 443 apartment homes in Phase I.

Because it’s in a mixed use community, the Emory Point Earth Fare has a larger “grab-and-go” department, where ready-to-eat foods and beverages are available, than other stores in the chain, according to Scorpiniti.

“This is our first urban store, but I am confident there will soon be more,” said Scorpiniti, who described the community as warm and welcoming.

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Earth Fare has one of the largest selections of organic produce to be found anywhere, according to President and CEO Frank Scorpiniti.

As part of the opening festivities, a check was presented to Open Hand, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization that seeks to help people prevent or manage chronic illness through better nutrition. “We chose Open Hand as our first community outreach because their mission aligns so well with ours,” Scorpiniti explained, noting that Earth Fare’s mission is to connect communities and improve lives through food.

Earth Fare was founded near Asheville, N. C., by Roger Derrough. Inspired by an outdoor leadership course that involved living off whatever food those participating in the course could find on the land, Derrough took an interest in natural food. After becoming ill from eating tainted food, he decided to open a health food store, since there were no others in the area at the time, according a biography on the University of North Carolina at Asheville’s website. 

Earth Fare has its own lexicon of terms such as “food philosophy” and “boot list,” references to the corporate practice of banning certain ingredients and production methods. “We offer only foods that meet our health standard,” Scorpiniti said. “Our foods contain no high fructose corn syrup, artificial fats or artificial trans fats, artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, artificial sweeteners, antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones and we work to avoid genetically modified foods. But more important is what we do have. We have one of the largest selections of organic produce anywhere and a wide selection of grass-fed beef.

“Our philosophy goes beyond our products,” Scorpiniti continued. “We know that our customers are continually educating themselves about what they put in and on their bodies. We have a knowledgeable staff, who can answer their questions and offer superior customer service.” Earth Fare’s website states that is seeks staff members who are “kind and gracious hosts” with a “passion and excitement for healthy living.”

Earth Fare also promotes what it calls its “100-mile commitment,” a promise to offer food grown within 100 miles of where it’s sold, when possible. There also are products grown on family farms rather than corporate farming facilities. Both are identified with signs in large red circles.

When the first Earth Fare opened in 1975, Scorpiniti said, its clientele consisted of a relatively small health-conscious segment of grocery buyers, but that has changed. “Our customer base has really grown as more and more people have become increasingly concerned about what they’re consuming,” Scorpini said, adding that the grocery chain’s philosophy also emphasizes value—keeping products affordable for average consumers. The motto, he said, is “healthy food for everyone.”

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