Along with rising rents and shifting demographics, another sign of change has come to the East Bay: two new health-focused grocery stores--both which emphasize their affordable prices-- will open in Oakland and Emeryville over the next two years. Each is estimated to create around 100 jobs.
Nationwide chain Sprouts Farmers Market, which is currently being built on Oakland’s Auto Row, will open January 13 of next year, and Portland-based New Seasons Market will open their second California location in the Emeryville Public Market in early 2017.
Smaller stores but still strong competitors
Sprouts, which opened its first store in 2002 in Chandler, Arizona, and now has over 200 stores nationwide, focuses on organic and healthy products. A Sprouts store is also smaller than most grocery stores--an average Sprouts store is only 20,000-30,000 square feet, compared to Safeway’s average of 46,000 square feet--making it a good fit for urban locations. The new Oakland store, Diego Romero, Sprouts’ corporate communications manager said, is essentially filling in the distribution gaps in the store’s expansive reach, which stretches throughout the Bay Area and include locations in Petaluma, Walnut Creek, San Ramon.
“We do really well in California because it’s such a healthy-minded state,” Diego Romero, Sprouts’ corporate communications manager
Over the last few years, Sprouts has positioned itself as a worthy competitor to Whole Foods. The company went public in 2013, and received praise for its combination of low prices--unlike Whole Foods, they have a weekly circular ad with frequent promotions--and quality produce. In the years following, they’ve expanded aggressively, opening more stores in the Southwest.
A B Corporation pioneer
New Seasons is a newer addition to the Bay Area. The Portland-based mini chain, which opened its first store in 2000, has 16 stores in the Oregon, one in Washington and one in San Jose. Like Whole Foods, New Seasons promotes its employee perks, which include profit sharing, and paid time off to volunteer. They’re also the first grocery store to be certified as a B Corporation, a certification awarded to by the nonprofit B Lab to companies that demonstrate “rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.”