- Associated Press - Sunday, June 1, 2014

JENKS, Okla. (AP) - Jenks wasn’t the place to be for Green Acres Market, a grocery store that opened there almost two years ago.

Green Acres, located at Seventh and Main streets, will close July 31, according to its owners. The grocer has a staff of about 25.

The natural and organic store was a cornerstone tenant of the $80 million, mixed-use Village on Main development under way near the Arkansas River.

“We enjoyed great support from the community, but we were kind of by ourselves in the development and nothing else really happened there over the last 18 months,” said Barb Hoffmann, CEO and co-owner of Wichita, Kansas-based Green Acres.

“Grocery stores need density, and that location didn’t grow as fast as we thought it would.”

The specialty store’s demise could signal the beginning of a shakeout in the grocery business in the Tulsa area, which has seen a lot of activity and new names over the last few years, one analyst said.

“The grocery market is a very tough business,” said Bob Ball, manager of economic research for the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “Margins are very thin.”

In Tulsa, where personal incomes and spending patterns have remained relatively solid, a lot of grocery executives likely saw the same opportunity at the same time, the Tulsa World reported (https://is.gd/Lr2LgP).

Along with the opening of Green Acres, the area has seen a flood of grocers, including Fresh Market, Sprouts, a second Whole Foods, and aggressive growth by Reasor’s and Walmart.

Hoffmann acknowledged the flurry of grocery store openings was likely a factor in her Jenks store shutting down.

“It was a combination of things,” she said in a telephone interview. “It did make it more difficult.”

Hoffmann said Green Acres’ seven other stores are doing well, including locations in Oklahoma City, Lawton, Kansas City and four in Wichita. The chain has been in business since 1994.

The CEO said the Jenks store, which opened in brand-new space, was considered to be the company’s most attractive location.

The 14,000-square-foot building featured a bright interior with wooden floors and natural materials. It had a large deli area, and carried many gluten-free, organic and raw foods.

The failure of the Jenks store would not preclude Green Acres from looking at another Tulsa-area location someday, the CEO said.

“We’d consider it, but probably not right away,” Hoffmann said.

Josh Driskell, president of the Jenks Chamber of Commerce, praised Green Acres for being a pioneer in the Village on Main development.

“We had a good relationship with Green Acres and we’ll be sorry to see them leave,” Driskell said.

He said Village on Main executives were looking for other tenants for the space. Hoffmann said it was possible another grocer could give the location a try.

The Village on Main office did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Along with all the grocery activity mentioned above, Tulsa also got a new small store downtown this year - Folks Urban Market and Pantry.

North and west Tulsa have been in particular need of more grocery stores. North Tulsa landed a large grocery store a few years ago, the Gateway Market near Pine Street and Peoria Avenue. In addition, the Healthy Community Store Initiative, an affiliate of the Tulsa Community Foundation, launched its Real Good Food Truck in January.

Convenience stores such as QuikTrip and Braum’s also have been adding more food to their product offerings.

Area analysts, though, say the city could use a larger number of smaller, neighborhood-type grocers. It’s too bad Green Acres couldn’t have been a step toward that trend becoming a reality.


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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