Specialty grocery stores set eye on Forsyth

Buzz building around fresh food retailers

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — For a long time, many Forsyth County residents have petitioned for a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s to open in the community.

Those two specialty grocery stores have said they don’t yet have plans to expand into Forsyth, but the opportunity is not missed in other specialty grocery stores.

At least three projects are being negotiated that could bring organic-food supermarket Earth Fare, Sprouts Farmers Market and a Georgia Farmers Market to locations throughout Forsyth.

Earth Fare is being considered at the Collection at Forsyth in the 400 block of Peachtree Parkway. Sprouts Farmers Market is going to open at the former Kroger supermarket-anchored location at Lakeland Plaza east of Ga. 400 and exit 14, according to a blog that covers retail, ToNeTo Atlanta, which first broke the news last month at www.tonetoatl.com.

Although a Whole Foods is not planned in Forsyth anytime soon, they will be opening in neighboring Alpharetta at the new mixed-use Avalon development.

When contacted for this story, Earth Fare representatives did not want to confirm their intent to open at the Collection at Forsyth.

A spokesperson for Sprouts also did not want to say where they planned to open, but did confirm they had plans to come to Georgia.

“As you know, leases tend to have contingencies, so we’re not making any formal announcements, granting media interviews or making any comment at this time,” the spokesperson said.

As far as the Georgia Farmers Market, which still plans to open at 131 Merchants Square adjacent to the Stars and Strike and Goodwill in Cumming, the property is having setbacks with the permitting process, the owner told the Forsyth Herald. Georgia Farmers Market does plan to open by next year.

Earth Fare, which is an Asheville, N.C.-based company, is a natural foods grocery store that according to sources plans a number of new locations in the state. Forsyth is scheduled to be among their first, with a possible opening during the second half of next year.

If built, the store will be placed along Ronald Reagan Boulevard in an undeveloped portion of the Collection. Earth Fare has existing Georgia locations in Athens and Augusta.

Phoenix, Ariz.-based Sprouts is likely to open at the former Kroger location in Lakeland Plaza. Elleni Tzortzis, whose family runs Giorgio’s Restaurant at Lakeland Plaza, had even launched a petition to bring a Whole Foods to the shopping center, but those calls were unsuccessful.

Bringing Sprouts, one of the fastest-growing retailers in the U.S., to the shopping center will be welcome news to shoppers looking for an alternative to traditional supermarkets.

Anthony Miller, who recently opened the Cupbearer Coffee and Tea Outfitter, 543 Lakeland Plaza, said this would be a perfect fit for health-conscious consumers.

Miller said with Stein Mart recently shutting its doors, it will be nice to see an increase in foot traffic to Lakeland Plaza. Miller said a Sprouts deal has not been announced to shop owners, but he’s heard from other owners this was in the works.

“Customers who shop at Sprouts are very specific in what they want; they are educated grocers,” Miller said. “This will give people a reason to drive across Ga. 400. For us, it’s the same type of customer, who values high quality.”