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Earth Fare Plans New Stores, Deploys New Execs

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Earth Fare continues to spread its own version of supernatural marketing in the South. Just weeks after the debut of its first Charlotte location, the chain said yesterday it plans a second Charlotte location in the South Park section, and added it will also open a second store in its home town here.

Earth Fare's second Charlotte store, slated to open by fall 2006, will be 25,000-sq.-ft., and the largest retail tenant in an area boasting high-end retail outlets and restaurants, as well as luxury residential units.

"From the welcoming response Charlotte has offered us, there is more than enough room for another store in the Charlotte metro area offering high quality, great tasting organic foods and products," said Earth Fare president and c.e.o., Michael Cianciarulo.

Earth Fare's sales in the existing Ballantyne store has more than doubled expectations, as customers from around the Charlotte area have flocked to everything from the all-natural air-chilled chicken from the full-service meat department, to the more than 250 European and artisan American cheeses. The deli & bakery department, with its selection of ready-made meals, sandwiches and sweet treats, has proved particularly popular as well in the market, according to the company.

"Charlotte boasts a very sophisticated customer base," said Troy DeGroff, Earth Fare's director of sales and marketing. "The shoppers immediately came in knowing the products, knowing the quality and value of what they were looking for, and shopping us just as they would any other supermarket. We expect the customers in the South Park area to appreciate many of the same things."

The natural retailer's plans for a second unit in Asheville call for its largest store to date, going up at a site formerly held by Food Lion. The South Asheville Earth Fare, scheduled to open in May of 2006, will comprise 32,000 square feet of natural and organic foods and nonfoods.

The South Asheville store is expected to have a larger produce department, expanded grocery and more specialty cheeses and wines. The café is also getting revamped, with more prepared meals ready to go, a larger salad bar featuring many organic items and a pizza station.

To help supply the two Asheville stores, as well as its other stores located throughout the Southeast, Earth Fare will open a 6,000-sq.-ft. central commissary in the Arden, N.C. area as well. Earth Fare's new director of foodservice, Mitch Orland, formerly with Sunflower Markets and Wild Oats, will oversee the commissary.

Also new to Earth Fare is Todd Greene, director of operations. Greene moved to Asheville from Ohio, where he worked as an operations director for Target stores.

Earth Fare currently operates 13 natural foods supermarkets in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.
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