Riding the Organic Wave: Grocery Stores Bringing All-Natural Foods Trend to Oklahoma

Article excerpt

Oklahomans will enjoy heightened availability of all-natural, organic foods under a wave of new groceries expected to open over the next year.

Oklahoma City got the jump in this trend as Sunflower Farmers Market opened earlier this month at 6410 N. May Ave., with Whole Foods expected to follow within two weeks at 6001 N. Western Ave.

But the great splash will come in 2012, especially in Tulsa.

Whole Foods is expected to open its second Tulsa site, this one on the south end at 91st Street and Yale. Midtown Tulsans have long enjoyed the Sooner State's original Whole Foods just off Peoria on 41st Street.

Fresh Markets is reportedly closing a lease for a store at 81st and Yale, a mile north of the new Whole Foods.

Phoenix-based Sprouts is expected to plant one or two Tulsa stores in 2012, along with Sunflower. That Denver-based chain is already working on its second metropolitan Oklahoma City store, this one in Edmond.

Wichita-based GreenAcres Market has already broken ground on a 12,000-square-foot shop anchoring part of Jenks' Village on Main development.

Local entrepreneurs have jumped on this bandwagon, with two downtown Tulsa groceries in the works specializing in natural foods.

And all of this has spurred competitive responses from local supermarkets, changing their organic assortments while adding some of these lesser-known brands, said University of Oklahoma economist James Kenderdine.

"What is most interesting is that Homeland has completely repositioned the supermarket that it had located near where this grocery store went in," said Kenderdine, professor emeritus of marketing and supply chain management at OU's Michael F. Price College of Business.

Tahlequah's Reasor's full-service grocery chain also is planning to add new sections focusing on organic foods, said CB Richard Ellis of Oklahoma principal Richard Monaghan, who works retail deals in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa. …