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Sunflower brightens up Roseville Square

Farmers market brings fresh produce, natural foods
By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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Sunflower Farmers Market is bringing new life to the Roseville Square shopping center, offering what company executives call “serious food with silly prices.” Built in the 30,000-square-foot building that once housed a Ross Dress for Less, the store adds to an ever-growing list of specialty grocers offering local produce, organic meats and natural foods in the Roseville area. Grand opening events kicked off today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 6:45 a.m., with the first 200 shoppers receiving a free, reusable gift bag filled with groceries valued at more than $50. Since the Ross store burnt down in July of 2006, the Roseville Square at the northwest corner of Harding and Douglas boulevards has been 40 percent vacant, with Trader Joes and Rite Aid as anchors. Bill Perkins, leasing agent for Roseville Square, said he feels “very good” about Sunflower Farmers Market coming in as a major anchor for the shopping center. “They are a complement to Trader Joes,” Perkins said. “They are heavy into produce and they are a different animal. Trader Joes is thrilled about having them.” Based out of Phoenix, Ariz., Sunflower Farmers Market was founded in 2002 and is focused on developing the value segment of the natural and organic food industry. “We’re going after the middle (class) that wants to transition to a healthier lifestyle that can’t necessarily shop at Whole Foods,” said Chris Sherrell, president and CEO of Sunflower Farmers Market. “The Sacramento and Roseville area is plenty big enough to support a dozen farmers market concepts.” This is the 34th store and the first in California for the company, which Sherrell said plans to open 12 to 18 more stores in Northern California over the next few years. “I think that Northern California is pretty much untapped to the farmers market concept,” Sherrell said. Kathy Hill, of Loomis, was shopping at the store Monday night for a special “friends and family” preview of the store and said she was very impressed with the prices. “I shop a lot at Whole Foods, and this is cheaper,” Hill said. “What I like about this store is the fact that they’ve got good quality, and they just beat everybody’s prices.” In addition to produce, which accounts for 25 percent of the store’s business, the market also offers organic beef, dairy products, beer and wine, frozen foods and natural living supplements, but the biggest draw is the coffee, according to Steve Black, vice president of marketing for Sunflower. “Our coffee director goes down to Central America and meets with the growers down there,” Black said. “We buy the beans there, then ship them to Phoenix. We’re the only ones that touch it, so it’s more affordable.” The next Sunflower Farmers Market to open in California is slated for October in Modesto, Sherrell said, and the company expects to open more stores in the Sacramento area in the next year. Perkins said Sunflower Farmers Market is the first of many new retail outlets coming to the Roseville Square and that Any Mountain Sports, a 150-store national chain offering skis, snowboards, bicycles and other outdoor sports equipment, and a new Subway will be opening by September. Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com.