Shortly thereafter, it announced plans for Edmond. That store will open in April. The company plans to open a Norman store in early 2013.
Judy Hatfield, with Norman-based Equity Realty, said Sunflower will be a welcome addition to the market. She was not involved with the deal.above Christine Soileau shops for produce at the grand opening of the Oklahoma City Sunflower Market on Aug. 29, 2011.
But the store also will compete with local stores Forward Foods, Native Roots Market and the Earth Café and Deli. Norman also is home to a Natural Grocer by Vitamin Cottage, a Colorado-based vitamin and grocery chain, which opened last year.
“Everybody has a niche,” Hatfield said. “They’re working to figure out how they can be different.”
The Earth has been around for about three decades and, with two locations, offers fresh breads, organic and natural products, sandwiches and drinks. Native Roots has many locally produced items and Forward Foods is known for its expansive collection of cheeses. Vitamin Cottage, while offering some groceries, specializes in vitamins and dietary supplements.
Hatfield said each store, and eventually Sunflower, will give Norman healthy options, and save many a trip north to Whole Foods Market.
“Sunflower will use local and organic growers,” she said. “This will also give us an alternative to Whole Foods.”
The store is planned for a former Hobby Lobby – which previously housed a TG&Y – at 555 W. Main Street, at the intersection of Main and S. Lahoma Avenue. The company will hire 100 employees.
“We’re truly looking forward to both our upcoming Oklahoma grand openings – the Edmond opening, and now the Norman location in 2013,” said Sunflower CEO Chris Sherrell. “We’re excited to expand Sunflower’s famous selection of natural and organic foods at silly prices to these new areas.”
But Sunflower wasn’t the only store eyeing Norman. Crest Foods is planning for a Norman location, and Hatfield said Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market also was looking, but with Sunflower coming, it shelved those plans.
“Norman was lucky enough to have both Sprouts and Sunflower Market looking,” Hatfield said. “Sunflower just pulled the trigger first.”Photo by Shannon Cornman