ROANOKE, Va. – Natural, organic grocery market chain Earth Fare is set to shut down all operations. The company did not say when, but employee’s at the Roanoke store said they were told to expect to be closed by the end of the month.
The company announced on Monday that it’s beginning inventory liquidation sales at all of its stores.
Shopper’s at the Roanoke store Monday were upset to hear the news.
“It really wasn’t our fault, but it is sad for the community I think because we get good things here and for whatever reason they don’t last long,” Melissa Balthis said.
The Asheville, North Carolina-based company will continue to pursue a sale of assets, in whole or in parts.
“Earth Fare has been proud to serve the natural and organic grocery market, and the decision to begin the process of closing our stores was not entered into lightly. We’d like to thank our Team Members for their commitment and dedication to serving our customers, and our vendors and suppliers for their partnership,” said Earth Fare. “While many of these initiatives improved the business, continued challenges in the retail industry impeded the company’s progress as well as its ability to refinance its debt. As a result, Earth Fare is not in a financial position to continue to operate on a go-forward basis. As such, we have made the difficult, but necessary decision to commence inventory liquidation sales while we continue to engage in a process to find potential suitors for our stores.”
Earth Fare opened in Roanoke in 2017 on Franklin Road. The store employs about 50 people, all of whom will lose their jobs, according to an Earth Fare spokesperson.
Roanoke City Economic Development Director Rob Ledger wants people to remember that this wasn’t a Roanoke issue, but rather a corporate one.
“I think the store performance was phenomenal, I would bet it was in the top five or ten percent of all the stores for Earth Fare, so it had nothing to do with store performance, it was a strong performer here and it’s a great location and a great neighborhood and great being on Franklin Road,” said Ledger. “It is a little bit bitter and disappointing that after this short period of time the company has decided to liquidate.”
The inventory liquidation sales will have food offered at a discount. Store fixtures are also available for sale as part of this process.
The Ivy Market shopping center had just hit full occupancy, and this isn’t the first major closure there. Grocer U-Krops built a grocery castle and closed shortly after it opened. It sat vacant for years before Carilion eventually moved in.
Ledger does not expect this building to meet the same fate however.
“It’s a ding but it seems like the economy is booming still we don’t anticipate it being empty for a long time," Ledger said. “We hope that because it is such a new building in such a great location, we’ll find another grocer, or some other suitable use. The market is so good right now I’m hoping that right away it will catch the attention of other grocers and maybe bring a new chain to us soon.”
“It’s sad for the people who work here, I hope that there’s more good job opportunities for them that will open up and hoping maybe we get a Trader Joe’s,” Kristen Sosebee said.