More in the Midwest
Fresh Thyme Farmers Market is motoring along with its ambitious growth plan, 17 stores in 2015 and 25 every year starting in 2016.
Just last month, the retailer opened two locations — one in Downers Grove, Ill., and its first Michigan store in East Lansing. Downers Grove will also serve as the company headquarters.
The Downers Grove location is pictured above during the grand opening April 29, the same day the East Lansing location opened.
Bagels for breakfast
The retailer planned to give out $50 in free groceries to the first 250 customers. Here, those in line are given refreshments.
Shoppers were met by produce and floral displays as they entered.
Fresh Thyme emphasizes its pricing of fresh food and natural products.
Fresh Thyme gave away a $2,500 donation to the Downers Grove-based nonprofit Dream Build Play Experience.
Opening day snacks
The grand opening had a slew of events including a Boar's Head hot dog cart, live music and balloon animals.
Fresh Thyme stores are typically 28,000 to 30,000 square feet.
“I think it’s one of our advantages," Sherrell told SN. "Not only from a site selection standpoint because we don’t need a 120,000-square-foot box, so we can roll out several of these stores, but I think the real advantage we’re seeing is that customers [are] really loving a smaller, more convenient, low-profile shop where you can see the whole store.”
A spring display pairs bouquets with seed packets.
A soap display includes fresh mint, forest, frankincense and myrrh, spiced dragon blood and patchouli & orange peel varieties for $1.99.
Shoppers can help themselves to bulk liquids like vinegars.
Even the nonfood section has a natural focus with yoga mats, yoga socks and premium items like Kleen Kanteen stainless steel water bottles.
In addition to produce and natural foods, the Fresh Thyme format includes a natural meat department, bulk foods, dairy, frozen and health supplements.
Sherrell told SN that Fresh Thyme's foodservice department differentiates the format from the other farmers markets he's worked with (Sunflower and Wild Oats).
"It has just been such a huge hit — salad bars, making fresh pizzas in the stores, sandwich bars and a lot of these things. We’ve got seating areas, which we didn’t have before.”
The East Lansing, Mich., store is pictured above.
Fresh Thyme gave a donation to Lettuce Live Well at the East Lansing store opening. The nonprofit focuses on health and wellness goals.
“Our mission is to improve the way our communities eat by combining the spirit of a weekend farmers market and the convenience of a neighborhood store,” said Sherrell said in a release announcing the East Lansing store opening.
“Providing nutritious offerings at a great value and featuring an abundant produce section makes healthy decisions a little easier.”
Getting the word out
“Word of mouth is still probably our most powerful source of marketing,” said Sherrell.
Pictured above is a produce department from a Fort Wayne, Ind., store that opened last fall.
A grand opening sign from a Lafayette, Ind., store that opened last fall.
Take a little or a lot
Bulk foods in Lafayette, Ind. Fresh Thyme announced that the Beavercreek, Ohio, store will open on May 20, and the Joliet, Ill., store opening is scheduled for June 10. The retailer also said that the Northville, Mich., store would be opening shortly.
Read why Fresh Thyme CEO Chris Sherrell is one of SN's 2015 Five Executives to Watch