Sprouts Spouts in Dallas, At Last

Seems an odd business decision, opening a store just like Whole Foods down the street from Whole Foods, but there it is: On Friday, Sprouts Farmers Market opened its sliding glass doors at Forest and Marsh lanes, and northwest Dallas couldn't be happier (or healthier). Two days after its opening, in the same ever-so-slightly weathered shopping center that still houses the skeleton of the movie theater where I once saw a double bill of M*A*S*H and Young Doctors in Love, the place was doing pretty good business, considering nobody even knows Sprouts is there yet. Then, when you're selling a pound of plump fresh-not-frozen jumbo shrimp for $9.99 and a pound of beautiful strawberries for under a buck, not to mention the very same bulk items and baked goods and bottled beverages and vitamin supplements as Whole Foods and Central Market at very competitive prices, people notice that. And then get there as quick as they can.

Sprouts already has two metroplex locations: in Flower Mound and Plano. But the Marsh Lane store is its first foray into the 214. That it's here at all isn't surprising: The vice president and chief financial officer of the Arizona-based company--which has 17 stores total in California, Arizona and now Texas--is a guy named Brad Denton, who got his MBA from SMU. And it's a popular fresh-food destination in Arizona: The readers of our mothership paper, Phoenix New Times, bestowed upon it Best Market for Produce in its most recent Best of Phoenix awards.

Last year, when the Plano store opened, it was described as residing in "the middle ground between gourmet natural food stores such as Whole Foods and traditional supermarkets like Kroger." Said Sprouts' corporate nutritionist Patti Milligan at the time:

"We're really kind of a transitional grocery store. We're not high-end like Central Market or Whole Foods and we're not traditional. We have been compared to a fresh Trader Joe's."

So far, the missus and I dig the place, which is wide-open and easier to manuever than your typical cramped-aisle grocery store. (No shelf is higher than chest-level; the place has a seriously old-fashioned, and old-person, vibe about it, which makes it oddly hip.) Now there's no need to hike all the way to Central Market, and Whole Foods, which is only a couple of miles up the road from Sprouts, suddenly seems hours away. And it should get really interesting when Whole Foods relocates from its current spot at Preston and Forest to its new 51,000-square-foot spot across the street, where it will allegedly house a spa and other schmancy amenities. --Robert Wilonsky

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