Months after abruptly revealing it would close its corporate office and all 55 of its locations across 10 states and begin liquidating its assets, natural food retailer Earth Fare made a low-key comeback in one of its former key markets, Charlotte, North Carolina, opening a store in SouthPark on Oct. 7.
According to The Charlotte Observer, the location “reopened without fanfare or celebration after the company signed the property lease just weeks ago.”
Asheville, North Carolina-based hospitality and medical facility management company Hulsing Enterprises, which purchased Earth Fare this past March in the wake of the retailer’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, has been quietly reopening Earth Fare locations across six states.
“It was kind of a quick open,” Betsy Bevis, Earth Fare’s director of marketing, told the Observer, adding that the grocer has already held “quick and fast” openings for 13 stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Virginia and Michigan over about 15 weeks. The company also wished to keep crowd size low to keep shoppers safe during the pandemic. Earth Fare has adopted such safety measures as mandatory face coverings; continually sanitized register belts, carts and baskets; designated entrances and exits, social- distancing floor markers, nightly deep cleaning; and shields at the registers between customers and cashiers.
The 25,000-square-foot location, which originally opened in 2007, currently employs more than 50 associates, and is still hiring.
According to the newspaper, Asheville-based Earth Fare is also planning to reopen four other stores in the Charlotte market: Ballantyne; Concord; Fort Mill, South Carolina; and an as-yet-unidentified location, with the Ballantyne and Fort Mill locations slated to open by the end of this year.
At the time that Earth Fare disclosed that it would shutter all of its stores last February, it had seven locations in the Charlotte area.
Meanwhile, in April the chain sold some store leases to Southeastern Grocers' Winn-Dixie chain (Boynton Beach, Jacksonville, Lakewood Ranch and Viera, Florida); Whole Foods Markets (South Asheville, North Carolina, and Chattanooga, Tennessee); and Aldi (Tallahassee, Florida). At that time, Hulsing, which purchased leases in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, said that it also intended to reopen seven stores in South Carolina; currently five are open.