Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The West Side's Health Food Surplus

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 at 3:58 PM

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The corner of the world where Lakewood, Rocky River, and Fairview Park collide will soon be the epicenter of all foodstuffs natural and organic. Whole Foods Market announced last week plans to open a store on Detroit Road in Rocky River come 2014. Another national natural chain, Earth Fare, opened just a skip down the road at Westgate in December, and a hop in the other direction is Nature’s Bin, Lakewood’s locally owned mainstay since 1975.

Earth Fare flacks declined comment on the impending showdown, and Whole Foods dodged a series of phone calls. But the folks over at Nature’s Bin have a few things on their minds.

“Whole Foods certainly represents competition,” says assistant executive director Mary Johnson. “We have a very loyal customer base here, and I think those folks will continue to support us.

“We aren’t just about food,” she adds. “Our mission is broader than that.” Indeed, Nature’s Bin has long served as a training site for challenged folks.

With just 8,000 square feet, Nature’s Bin’s sales have not dropped since Earth Fare — more than three times the size — came to town, Johnson says. When Whole Foods opens, it will boast almost five times the space. No word yet on Mustard Seed’s plans to join the party.

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