Setting up shop in the shadow of Whole Foods Market seems like a risky proposition for a family-owned health food store, but a spokesperson for Natural Grocers -- readying to open at Preston Road and Forest Lane on August 31 -- says proximity to the natural food giant is a cornerstone of her company's business strategy.
"In bigger cities, we do look for places with an established natural food community," explains Heather Isely, executive vice-president for the 32-outlet chain. "Whole Foods' busiest store is in the same parking lot with our busiest store."
Isely says she's seen evidence of the counter-intuitive strategy working throughout the chain. It's not uncommon, she says, for customers to split a shopping trip between both establishments.
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"We've always viewed ourselves as complementary to Whole Foods, because there are things we sell that you can't get there," Isely says.
According to Isely, Natural Grocers, which is set to inherit customers and some employees from Roy's Natural Market when it closes next month, has a different emphasis from Whole Foods.
"We consider ourselves to be more in line with a traditional health food store," she says. "Whole Foods tends more to glitz and glamour and maybe more the gourmet side."
Whole Foods also has a deli, Isely notes . Natural Grocers opened its first Texas location in Richardson about two years ago. "We really enjoy being in Dallas," Isely says. "We plan on continuing to expand."