Asheville, NC–Earth Fare, which was founded in 1975 in Asheville and now has locations across 10 states in the Southeast, mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, will be closing its Indianapolis-area locations in Carmel, Noblesville, and Greenwood on January 11, according to a report in the Indianapolis Star (IndyStar). Also closing on that day, according to Grocery Dive, will be the Earth Fare location in Fairfax, VA, which opened only two years ago.
Regarding this and other recent closings in recent years, Jay Jacobowitz, President and Founder of Retail Insights and Merchandising Editor of WholeFoods Magazine, said, “Natural chain store executives seem prone to the same strategic error of extending beyond their geographic supply chain efficiencies, and beyond the boundaries of their regional brand recognition. We saw this several years ago with The Fresh Market, based in the Southeast, which opened and then had to close stores in Northern California and Texas. Mrs. Greens jumped from its home base just north of New York City to Illinois, and New Jersey, only to close those distant locations several years later. Sprouts, concentrated in the West, leaped across the country several years ago to open in Atlanta, but the new CEO now says the company needs to stay closer to its supply chain to maintain its advantage in fresh produce. Colorado-based Lucky’s, which initially was careful to expand only along the delivery routes of its main wholesale supplier, pole vaulted to Florida with the infusion of capital from Kroger. This fulfilled a strategic need of Kroger’s, which had no presence in Florida, but now, with the withdrawal of this support, look for Lucky’s to rethink its geographic strategy.”
Jacobowitz continued, “The same now appears true of Earth Fare, which several years ago skipped 500 miles from its base in North Carolina up to Ohio, and now needs to retrench geographically. What we can surmise is these remote real estate opportunities, while attractive by themselves, clouded managements’ judgment, overshadowing basic distribution realities. Those chickens are coming home to roost now.”
In more positive news for Earth Fare, Mood Media, an in-store media solutions company dedicated to elevating the customer experience, announced that it has entered into partnership with Earth Fare. According to the release, earlier this year Mood installed multiple custom-designed digital signage display options and strategies as part of a trial in the Café of an Earth Fare store in Charlotte, NC–and that has led to a 10% increase in the Café’s “Eat In” food category sales.