inside Orlando’s first Earth Fare market in Lake Nona

 

 

will be getting the first of what could be many of organic grocery chain Earth Fare’s greater locations.

The Fletcher, N.C.-based company opened its 24,000-square-foot store at 13204 Narcoossee Road on Sept. 29 as the anchor to the $10.5 million Shoppes at Nona Place facility. The store features the same styling as many other Earth Fare stores, but there is a local feel for the residents of Lake Nona, according to Earth Fare CEO Frank Scorpiniti.

“What is not prototype is how we join each community, some of the refinement we do and the assortment of local products we have on the shelf,” Scorpiniti told Orlando Journal.“While the furniture is pretty darn similar, the people and local product assortment will be very focused for each store we open.”

The location at the Shoppes at Nona Place is among an increase of development in the area, including a 7,000-square-foot store for Sunrise-based Pet Supermarket Inc. The shopping center, developed by Palm Beach Gardens-based Blackfin Partners and Canadian firm North American Development Group, still is looking for other tenants. Interested parties can go here for more information.

Why develop in Lake Nona? We have a store we developed in Lakewood Ranch with (Development Co.), and of course, we toured many of its developments. We came to Lake Nona having known that, and we were incredibly inspired by the health and wellness focus of this particular community. We had become aware of this potential two-and-a-half year ago and understood the growth that was going to occur in this community with the young families, with moms and dads focused on health. What we offer was kind of missing here, and what we could do fills a need that has yet been addressed.

What has it been like getting more involved in the community? We have been here as a management team many times, but one of the ways our company becomes familiar with the community is we ask people to serve on community advisory boards and have met with our teams on more than four occasions to help us understand the community. That started 90 days ago, and we really appreciate what they do to tell us what the community needs, what we can do to be a better neighbor — and that’s put into the building blocks of this particular store.

What does it mean to stick to an organic food philosophy compared to other chains? It makes us very proud our focus is on health and wellness. We know if we do this right, the sales and growth of our company will come. Rather than being focused on selling everything, we’re focused on making sure we don’t sell what we perceive to be bad for health. I think that’s a very special position in retail — we have a higher purpose than filling a grocery buggy. Our purpose is filling it with longevity, health, and happiness.

What are the next expansion steps for the area? Our next store in the area will be by Orlando Health on the corner of Orange Avenue and Gore Street. That will open later this year and we are very excited. That will be No. 2 of probably eight to 10 stores we are looking at in the Orlando area currently. Many of these are still under negotiation.