Natural Grocers testing whether Lafayette can support another health food store

Stephen Marcantel

Lafayette has seen a fair amount of development in past years. There are often announcements of new restaurants and clothing stores. However, Lafayette has not seen the introduction of a new health food grocery store chain since the opening of Whole Foods Market in 2014.

Natural Grocers faces stiff competition in Lafayette. Among health food grocery stores, Natural Grocers is competing with Whole Foods Market, Drug Emporium and The Fresh Market.

Natural Grocers’ media contact, Amy Brophy, said what distinguishes their company from Whole Foods Market is 100 percent USDA certified organic produce, pasture-based dairy products and free-range eggs. Brophy said Natural Grocers also offers more affordable pricing than Whole Foods Market.

Whole Foods Market’s corporate and Lafayette location were contacted multiple times to comment but failed to respond.

Brophy said Natural Grocers works with local produce farmers and the livestock industry to see if these producers are large enough to supply the region. Brophy did not confirm if Natural Grocers will be working with Lafayette or Louisiana farmers and the livestock industry.

Brophy said Natural Grocers offers free nutrition education classes, counseling sessions and in-store recipe tutorials. The store also stocks an assortment of vitamins and supplements.

According to Brophy, the Lafayette location will be 13,461 square feet. This is smaller than many chain grocery store locations in Lafayette. Brophy said Natural Grocers believes smaller locations allow the company to create a higher quality shopping experience. 

Natural Grocers has seen a fall in stock prices since it became publicly traded in 2012, according to Yahoo Finance. Natural Grocers has grown according to the company’s annual report in 2018. Natural Grocers’ net sales were $849 million and a 5.8 percent increase in retail revenue in 2018.

Natural Grocers closed the company’s first location in 2018. The company’s website said the closure was due to underperformance. The closure was in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was the first and currently only closure since the company’s founding in 1955.

Brophy said Natural Grocers’ Lafayette Location is set to open Oct. 9, 2019. The location will be in Parc Lafayette’s La Marquise building at 1925 Kaliste Saloom Road.

Natural Grocers was started in 1955 by Margaret Isley and Philip Isely in Golden, Colorado. Their first store opened in 1958, according to the company’s website.

In 1998, Natural Grocers purchased the Vitamin Cottage and has opened 148 stores in 19 states as of Sept. 30, 2018, according to Natural Grocers’ 2018 annual report.

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