AUSTIN, Texas — Choices abound for Texas shoppers.
From traditional grocery to supercenters and small formats, retailers continue to expand in the Lone Star State.
Austin has been a hotbed of growth for several small-format retailers over the past two years.
The home of Whole Foods Market Inc., saw the entry of Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market; Boulder, Colo.-based Sunflower Farmers Market; and Lakewood, Colo.-based Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage stores are sprouting up in the Austin metro area.
Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage opened two stores in 2010 and plans to open a third in Cedar Park in February, according to its website. It sells exclusively organic produce.
Vitamin Cottage plans to open several more Natural Grocers in Texas in 2011, including Midland, Abilene and Casa Linda, according to its website.
Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market has 13 stores in Texas, said public relations spokeswoman Kim Rockley.
Two more openings are planned for 2011, Rockley said.
“The first Fort Worth store opens on Jan. 26, and Carrollton will open later in the year,” she said.
Bloggers suggested in early January that Sprouts is looking to buy Henry’s and Sun Harvest, banners sold off by Whole Foods after it acquired Boulder, Colo.-based Wild Oats in 2008. Sun Harvest and Henry’s are owned by Smart & Final Inc., Los Angeles. Rockley didn’t give any credit to the reports.
“That’s a rumor we are very used to hearing,” Rockley said.
As of Jan. 19, the Newflower Farmers Market name will disappear from Boulder-based Sunflower Farmers Market’s four Texas stores.
The retailer acquired the rights to the name Sunflower from Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Supervalu Inc. in early January for its Texas stores and private-label products. Previously, it held the rights to the name for its other 36 stores in the Southwest.
Chris Sherrell, Sunflower president and chief executive officer, said the exterior signs should be changed by mid-January and the internal changes will gradually continue until the Newflower name is phased out.
The company plans to open its first store in California this spring and continue developing the California market.
“We’re certainly looking to put a couple more this year in Dallas and certainly in Austin in a year or two,” he said. “Sprouts came in and opened three or four pretty quickly. We’re going to let the market settle on the six new Farmers Markets. Texas is too big for us to not put another half to a dozen stores in the next two-three years.”