What started more than 40 years ago as a small natural food store in the basement of a southwest Roanoke County couple’s home has grown into a member-owned grocery store that soon will have two locations and supply its stores with products from its own farm.
Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op announced last week that it is opening a second store on the Roanoke farmers market, in the space where Thomas Market closed earlier this year to accommodate Center in the Square’s $27 million renovation. Plans for the co-op’s 25-acre urban farm, Heritage Point, were finalized earlier this year.
“We’re excited to be in the position to grow our cooperative,” general manager Bruce Phlegar said in a news release announcing the store.
The co-op’s board of directors had been looking for several years for a suitable space to open a second store. In August,Center in the Square president Jim Sears approached the board about opening in the renovated Thomas Market space. The owner of the market did not renew the store’s lease, Sears said.
“I think it strengthens the economy of the market area,” Sears said. “It strengthens Center in the Square. It provides a service I don’t think we could have found anywhere else.”
Click here to read more about the co-op’s growth and an update on Ivy Market, the Roanoke shopping center where Ukrops closed several years ago.
The Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op will open a second location on the Roanoke’s farmers market in the spring.
The downtown store, which will be about a fifth the size of the co-op’s current site on Grandin Road, will occupy the space where Thomas Market was located.
“We’re excited to be in the position to grow our cooperative,” Bruce Phlegar, the co-op’s general manager, said in a news release. “The growth of Downtown Roanoke shows us that it’s the right place for us to be.”
Target sent out these mailers with coupons to promote its expanded grocery section.
From small details, such as the new, plastic shopping carts to the expanded grocery section, the Valley View Target in Roanoke definitely has a different feel.
The store just completed a nearly $1 million remodel that moved some departments, put a layer of fresh paint on the outside and inside, updated the fitting rooms and snack bar, and perhaps most notably, added more coolers and freezers to accommodate fresh meats, dairy and produce.
Target has rolled out the expanded grocery section at 442 stores in the past year, according to the company’s financial statement for the quarter that ended April 28. The move seems to be paying off. Target reported that food was one of three best-selling items in the month of May, when it saw a 4.4 percent increase in same-store sales.
Have you been to Target since the remodel was complete? Do you like the new look? Will you do your grocery shopping at Target?
The Kroger on Rutgers Street in Roanoke is getting a remodel. Photo by Amanda Codispoti
The Kroger on Rutgers Street in Roanoke near Town Square Shopping Center is getting ready for a remodel.
Kroger is getting ready to spend about $400,000 to upgrade the store’s decor and raise the ceiling height, according to a building permit filed in Roanoke.
The remodel was described by Kroger spokesman Carl York as “a new in-store décor update,” which he said should include “a new design and color scheme on the interior walls.”
In addition, the ceiling will be raised to 14-feet, York said. The building permit says that the perimeter ceiling will be raised to match the height of the ceiling in the center of the store.
The building permit also said the existing vinyl composition tile will be removed and the concrete slabs underneath will be dyed and polished.
York said the company is still in the planning process and he doesn’t know when the work might start or finish. The store will remain open during the remodel, he said.
The Rutgers location most recently added a 7,150 square foot building next to the grocery store that houses a Virginia ABC liquor store, Firehouse Subs and Supercuts. It also recently installed a drive through kiosk for its pharmacy.
The former Ukrops at Ivy Market. Roanoke Times file photo
Late last year, there was hope at Valley Bank that Whole Foods, an organic grocery store, would move into the old Ukrop’s building at Roanoke’s Ivy Market development.
The company sent a team to assess the Franklin Road site late last year and had been talking with the bank, which bought the property after it went into foreclosure.
But hope has faded.
“I would not be as optimistic about Whole Foods making a decision to move forward at this time,” said Valley Bank President and CEO Ellis Gutshall.
“It was a very good effort. As the bank and a property owner, we need to move forward.”
Roanoke-based Valley Bank is talking with several other interested potential tenants, which Gutshall would not name.
He said the bank would focus on grocer tenants until it had exhausted those options because the building was built for a grocery store.
Had Whole Foods decided to open at Ivy Market, the building would have had to be divided into two spaces, because it was too big for a Whole Foods in a market this size, Gutshall said.
The bank earlier this year demolished three vacant buildings on 5 acres near Ivy Market to prepare the land for phase two of the development. The activity has prompted calls from interested parties about those pad sites, Gutshall said.
Here’s a link to the Retail Roundup column, which also has updates on the cafe set to open soon at Sixteen West in downtown Roanoke, and vacancies at Valley View Mall.
What’s your reaction to the news that Whole Foods had been considering opening a store in Roanoke? Are you disappointed that the company appears to be looking elsewhere?
Many of you have clamored for a Whole Foods in Roanoke.
While I can’t report that the organic food store is coming to Roanoke, what I do want to tell you is that the company earlier this year announced plans to open 1,000 new stores.
From Whole Foods’ earning statement: “Over the long term, the Company considers 1,000 stores to be a reasonable indication of its market opportunity in the United States as the Whole Foods Market brand continues to strengthen, consumer demand for natural and organic products continues to increase, and the Company’s flexibility on new store size opens up additional market opportunities.”
Whole Foods currently has 317 stores, the closest to Roanoke being in Winston-Salem, N.C. and Charlottesville.
There is no indication of what kind of time frame the company has in mind, but as the trade publication Supermarket News points out, it would take 23 years for Whole Foods to reach its 1,000 store goal at its current expansion rate.
Supermarket News also reports that many of the stores in the expansion plan would be in secondary markets. Roanoke is considered to be a tertiary market.
Earlier this month I called and emailed a Whole Foods spokeswoman about the possibility of a Whole Foods opening in Roanoke. I haven’t received a response.
The company’s financials are strong. In the quarter that ended Jan. 15, Whole Foods reported a profit of $118.3 million, up 33 percent, from $88.7 million the same quarter the previous year. Comparable store sales rose 8.7 percent.
Do you think Roanoke has what it takes to lure Whole Foods?
Amelia Glaser and Mark Linson at Thursday night's meeting. Photo courtesy of Suzzane Gandy
Last week I updated you on the latest concerning the grocery store, restaurant and cafe planned for the Sixteen West development on Church Avenue in downtown Roanoke.
Today, I’m back with a few more details.
The Downtown Roanoke Neighborhood Association held it’s monthly meeting at the building Thursday night, where cheese specialist Amelia Glaser and chef Mark Linson served up lots of different cheeses, breads and cured sausage. They and developer John Garland also talked in more detail about the plans for the marketplace.
Garland, president of Spectrum Design, said he’s long envisioned a downtown marketplace that included a grocery store and pharmacy.
“It needs to be a market for what people need everyday,” he told the group.
Although no one has committed to financing and operating a pharmacy at Sixteen West, Garland said he’s reserving a space for one.
Glaser and Linton emphasized that they want the marketplace to have a European feel, with downtown residents and workers walking or biking to the marketplace several times a week for fresh food.
Glaser, whose business the Laughing Gouda provides wine and cheese catering, is opening the S&W Market, where she’ll sell her cheeses as well as local, organic meat, produce, dairy, and wine and beer. She also hopes to provide delivery for groceries and catered meals, cooked up by Linson.
Linson, a former chef at the Blue Apron in Salem, is opening the Cork and Crust restaurant next to the grocery store. It will serve tapas, cheese boards, soups, and wood-fired pizzas.
The pair is also opening Cafe 16, which will serve Floyd County’s Red Rooster coffee, as well as tea, smoothies, pastries and breakfast foods as well as to-go food, such as wraps. The cafe is expected to open first, sometime this spring.
Plans for a new store were also discussed Thursday night. That store, located in one of the five vendor stalls on the first floor, is named 16 Etc., and will sell sundries, such as paper towels. The other stalls have not been leased.
Construction on the first floor of the building has been finished for several months, but much work remains to be done to ready the cafe, restaurant and kitchen, grocery store and vendor stalls. You can see those spaces in this photo slide. (Expand the slideshow and click on “Show Info” to see captions).
In a few months some of the Walmart store-brand foods will have an unfamiliar icon on them.
Walmart this week unveiled its green and white “Great For You” icon, which will be printed on the products that have reduced sodium, sugar and trans fat levels.
The icon is part of the company’s healthy food initiative, which it promises to reformulate thousands of foods to reduce sugar, sodium and trans fat levels, make the healthier food choices more affordable, build new stores in so-called food deserts, and increase its donations to food banks.
The icon, seen in the picture above, will begin appearing this spring on Walmart Great Value and Marketside items, and on fresh and packaged fruits and vegetables, according to a news release from the company.
“Our ‘Great For You’ icon provides customers with an easy way to quickly identify healthier food choices,” Andrea Thomas, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart, said in the news release. “As they continue to balance busy schedules and tight budgets, this simple tool encourages families to have a healthier diet.”
Walmart turned to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Institute of Medicine to create nutritional guidelines for the reformulated food products.
According to this New York Times story, Walmart has said it will also allow other brands to use the “Great For You” icon at no cost, so long as the products meet Walmart’s nutritional guidelines.
Other stores have adopted similar techniques to identify the nutritional value of food. This story, written by my colleague Sarah Bruyn Jones last year, is about a system called NuVal, which assigns a score to each product’s nutritional value. The score is displayed on the shelf next to the price. Grocery store Food City adopted the system, and Kroger was testing it as of last June.
Plans for Roanoke’s first downtown grocery store at Sixteen West are humming along, as are plans for a cafe and a wood-fired pizza restaurant.
The Sixteen West development on Church Avenue (most recently the Downtown Sports Club) is already home to Carilion’s RAC Xpress, Core Chiropractic and Wellness Center, and eight one- and two-bedroom apartments.
The grocery store, cafe and restaurant are expected to open this spring, said Amelia Glaser. She and her business partner, Mark Linson, are opening the businesses.
Glaser, of Salem, described the grocery store as a specialty cheese shop that will also carry fresh, local produce and dry bulk items as well as staples such as bread and Homestead Creamery milk. The grocery store will have a salad bar and offer meals to go, Glaser said. The store is named S&W Market after the S&W Cafeteria that used to be in the Church Avenue building.
Glaser is a self-described cheese specialist who’s worked at Fresh Market and Ukrops. She said she’s always wanted to bring a specialty cheese shop to downtown Roanoke, and the grocery store provided an opportunity to do that.
Cafe 16, will serve Floyd County’s Red Rooster coffee, as well as tea, smoothies, pastries and breakfast foods, Glaser said. To-go items, such as wraps, will also be available.
The restaurant, Cork and Crust, will feature tapas and wood-fired pizzas, as well as wine and craft beers.
We previously reported that Comfort Cuisine, a Roanoke catering company, was opening the grocery store. Phone numbers for the business and business owner are disconnected. Several of the businesses listed as pick up points on Comfort Cuisine’s website told me they haven’t seen the owners in months. If I find out more I’ll post an update.
Update 2:45 p.m.: John Garland, who developed Sixteen West, told me in an email today that Comfort Cuisine is no longer in business.