PLANTATION, Fla. -- Bread of Life Natural Food Market opened its second unit here last month, with a new focus on its namesake.
The specialty retailer, labeled a natural foods supermarket operator by its owners, Richie Gerber and Jim Oppenheimer, is significantly boosting its efforts to capture a share of the growing market for European-style, crusty bread.
The trend in merchandising such upscale breads is also becoming more important to supermarket in-store bakeries, said bakery consultants.
"We are the neighborhood bakery," Bread of Life's Gerber said in an interview with SN. "We wanted to do this because these breads have become so popular, and why not live up to our name?"
The retailer's new unit here is in a region dominated by two supermarket giants based in Florida -- Winn-Dixie, Jacksonville, and Publix, Lakeland. Gerber told SN, however, that he doesn't consider the in-store bakeries at such chains as competition when it comes to his all-natural, made-from-scratch breads.
The new store, at 30,000 square feet, is three times the size of the original Bread of Life store in Fort Lauderdale. Gerber said there is adequate space for steam-injection ovens and other bakery equipment, and that has enabled the retailer to launch a crusty bread program.
Bread of Life now produces 30 varieties of crusty breads at the new store here. With 3,000 square feet dedicated to bakery, the new unit also supplies the original Bread of Life, about 12 miles away, with bread and other baked goods.
Retail prices for the breads range from $2.09 for a 1-pound loaf of San Francisco sourdough to a whopping $15.99 for a 10-pound loaf, offered in several varieties. The 10-pounder, baked on special order, "makes a magnificent centerpiece," Gerber said.
The top sellers are the $2.09 sourdough and a multi-grain rustic loaf for $2.29.
Open production is featured in the bakery, as it is in other Bread of Life departments. The store's interior was specifically designed by Hempstead, N.Y.-based Arnold Ward Studios to emphasize fresh foods and service, Gerber said.
A floral department and juice bar are the elements nearest the entrance, and low-profile displays in the middle of the store allow a view of the bakery, which is at the back.