Charlotte, NC. — The Fresh Market opened a new store in south Charlotte that brings it back to its roots as a European and specialty market. It’s an important event for the company, which closed 15 stores earlier this year under CEO Larry Appel, who came onboard a year ago. It sits a few hundred yards from the location of Fresh Market’s first Charlotte store, which opened in 1991.
“Our store’s not a grocery store; it’s a treasure hunt,” Appel said, in an interview with the Charlotte Observer.
Appel said Fresh Market lost its way for a bit when it went public in 2010, sold itself in March 2016 to Apollo global Management, and then launched lower prices, a larger grocery selection, and 1,300 “everyday items” like baby, pet and household cleaning products, reports the Observer.
The new store has a fruits and vegetable section about three times the size of one at a traditional grocer.
Appel said a former regular customer told him he stopped shopping at the store “when you decided you were going to be an ordinary grocery store.”
“I try not to judge my predecessors because they all had good reasons for doing what they were doing,” Appel said of the changes made. “But I do think that we may have confused our guests a little bit.”
The new store opens in a competitive grocery environment surrounded by Whole Foods, Earth Fare and Sprouts. It is the only store Fresh Market will open this year. It operates 161 stores in 22 states.