Health-minded supermarket chain opening store in Hixson

Health-minded supermarket chain opening store in Hixson

November 1st, 2016 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 10/31/16. Jeff Dimeo sets the cheese display at the new Earth Fare in Hixson on Monday, October 31, 2016, in preparation for the store's opening on November 2.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 10/31/16. Evan Lucas stocks shelves at the new Earth Fare in Hixson on Monday, October 31, 2016, in preparation for the store's opening on November 2.

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga...

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Fast fact

Earth Fare’s newest Chattanooga-area store will open at 5414 Hixson Pike on Wednesday at 7 a.m.

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 10/31/16. Frank Scorpiniti, President and CEO of Earth Fare, speaks about the company's newest location in Hixson on Monday, October 31, 2016. The grocery store opens on November 2.

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga...

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Organic foods supermarket chain Earth Fare plans to use nearly 40 local vendors when the company on Wednesday opens its second Chattanooga area store with a location in Hixson.

"More and more, Americans are becoming much better informed about what they put in their bodies," said Earth Fare Chief Executive Frank Scorpiniti. "We found Hixson was seeking healthier opportunities for themselves and their families."

Scorpiniti, in an interview at the store at 5414 Hixson Pike, said Earth Fare's existing Gunbarrel Road unit does "very well."

The Hixson store, the Asheville, N.C.-based grocer's 39th, will employ 88 people and was stocked after it put together a community advisory team of about 20 people, the CEO said.

"We learned from them what they and their friends wanted from us," he said. Those meetings, along with others with local vendors, helped Earth Fare tailor the assortment of products in the 32,000-square-foot store, Scorpiniti said.

Earth Fare spokeswoman Laurie Aker said the company will have five stores in Tennessee — two in Chattanooga, two in Knoxville and one in Johnson City.

The store offers a full slate of goods free from high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, artificial colors and sweeteners as well as from synthetic growth hormones and added antibiotics in fresh meat and dairy.

Aker said the Hixson store will offer beer on tap, which is not currently offered in East Brainerd, that can be consumed in the cafe. Also, the new store will hold an "heirloom juice bar" which offers a larger variety than does the Gunbarrel Road unit, she said.

The store additionally will offer rewards loyalty cards with which shoppers can garner deals and store credits, Aker said.

The location for many years held a Bi-Lo supermarket before it was turned into a Harvest Grocery. That independent supermarket that opened in 2015 focused on fresh regional produce and natural and organic foods, but it closed after less than a year.

Scorpiniti, who became Earth Fare's CEO two years ago, said the grocer at its core offers the most "authentic, organic offering in retail."

"Because we've differentiated our product offering, there seems to be space in the market for the very unique offering we have," he said. "That gets us very excited."

The company's chief declined to give sales figures for privately held Earth Fare, but he said sales are growing.

The company plans to open three more stores by mid-2017, Scorpiniti said. It's also offering an enhanced digital platform in January, he said.

"We have to continue to be the best at what we do and the only ones who do what we do, with this strict food philosophy," Scorpiniti said.

Founded in 1975 in Asheville, Earth Fare has locations in the Southeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest states.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.