Natural Grocers set to open store in Jonesboro in 2017

by George Jared (gjared@talkbusiness.net) 139 views 

Philip and Margaret Isely borrowed $200 to open a health foods store in Golden, Colo., in 1955. The couple’s daughter, Margaret was severely ill, but her condition improved after her parents began feeding her organic, nutrient rich foods.

Jonesboro residents will have the chance to enjoy what the Isely family began more than 60 years ago. Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers Inc. (Natural Grocers) will open a 25,000-square-foot store in the Caraway Plaza, at the corner of Caraway Road and Nettleton Avenue in Jonesboro.

The plaza is managed by Halsey-Thrasher-Harpole Commercial Real Estate. The store will employ 18 full-time workers, and should open in the first half of 2017, HTH managing partner Gary Harpole told Talk Business & Politics. It will be located in the same space as the former Hastings Store. How much workers will be paid was not released.

“We are excited to have natural grocers come to Jonesboro,” Harpole said. “This is one of those times when the overwhelming desire of the market gets met by a national leading company. Every survey, formal or informal that has been conducted in this market asking people what kind of retail development they want to see resulted in a call for a company like Natural Grocers.”

The store will be owned by the corporation and there are no local investors, Harpole said. The exact amount of the investment by Natural Grocers was not released, but the company typically spends about $2.2 million to develop stores of this size, Talk Business & Politics has learned.

HTH has cleared the inside of the building, and is now working on the store front and facade. The work should be completed by mid-January, and Natural Grocers will take possession of the building. HTH could not release the lease terms without Natural Grocers approval. It should take up to 90 days for the building to be retro-fitted to meet the company’s needs. The store will likely open in late spring. It was a relatively easy sell, Harpole said.

“I’d like to say it was hard, but the market and the location pretty much sold themselves,” Harpole said. “They really loved the space and wanted to be in this market.”

Natural Foods employs more than 3,000 workers nationwide, according to the publicly traded company. It has 130 stores in 19 states. The company has stores in Little Rock and Fayetteville.

Employee compensation numbers were not released, but the company does offer unique incentive programs for its workers. For every hour they work, employees are given a $1 in-store credit. The company gives full-time employees a 30% discount, and covers 80% of their health, dental, and vision insurance costs.

Natural Grocers only sells natural produce, with 100% USDA certified organic, naturally raised meats, pasture-based dairy products, free range and pasture-based eggs, and other organic and natural products. It also offers products from local producers in each market it serves, according to the company.

“We cannot properly serve our customers without our talented staff and nutrition experts,” Natural Foods co-president Kemper Isely said. “The crew we’re putting in place in Jonesboro will be the experts in their field and will bring a great deal knowledge and value to the Natural Grocers family and the local community.”

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