* Tag along as Studio Forsyth visits Earth Fare in The Collection at Forsyth.
SOUTH FORSYTH — Some people were so excited about the grand opening of a new health food grocery store in south Forsyth that they lined up three hours before the 7 a.m. opening.
Earth Fare’s brand-new location in The Collection at Forsyth off Peachtree Parkway marks the store’s 40th branch in the past 40 years after beginning in Asheville, N.C.
“What sets us apart and makes us unique is that we have the highest food quality standards in the industry, so people can confidently make healthy eating decisions without even trying,” said Laurie Aker, spokeswoman for Earth Fare.
She said the company pitches itself as a healthy food store that is affordable and convenient.
Since nothing has high fructose corn syrup or trans fats, meat and seafood have no added hormones or antibiotics. In addition, all breads have high-quality flour, and shoppers don’t have to read labels to make sure their products are good for them.
The 23,000-square-foot space boasts more than 1,000 gluten-free products, more than 4,000 non-GMO items and more than 200 natural and organic bulk options.
“Because it’s the 40th store, we wanted to make it a little special. So this is the very first store that has an heirloom café, where all of the coffee, juices, smoothies, they’re all 100 percent organic,” Aker said. “And this is a little different of a layout. We have a fresh cut station in the produce department that is also unique.”
Shoppers can bring whole fruits to the station and have them cut right there. They can also pick up fresh-made guacamole and salsa, Aker said.
One shopper taking advantage of the station and special opening-week deals was Kirby Gravatt. With six pineapples in her cart, she said she had been waiting a year for the store to open.
“I grew up in Indiana and moved here in 2004, and my aunt got me into Earth Fare in Indiana when I went back to visit,” Gravatt said. “We’re really into natural and organic-type foods.”
She had been driving to the next-nearest location, which is in Norcross.
“I was just really excited to know there was going to be a store that is literally like 10 minutes up the street from my house,” she said.
Specific items she had been anticipating include organic lotions and Damascus herbs for her and her pets. “It’s a product I buy, but it’s hard to find so I usually just have to order it online,” she said.
According to Angie Laczko, marketing director for the company, Earth Fare officials put an emphasis on buying local, which they define as a 100-mile radius of each location.
All the meat is traceable, she said, and every local item is marked with it origin.
Mike Lappin, produce merchandiser, said seasons determine what is sourced locally, but that “buying local and supporting the community” is a priority.
Next week, they should be getting shipments from The Veggie Patch in Commerce.
After working for The Vitamin Shop for 13 years, David Long, wellness merchandiser for Earth Fare, made the move to the company to support a more organic lifestyle.
He said the wellness section of any Earth Fare is his favorite because the array of options helps other people reach a “different level of health and better themselves.”
Shoppers can visit Earthfare.com to sign up for an email list that sends coupons. They can also text “EAT” to 71700 for separate, additional coupons.
Earth Fare also offers its Tomato Bank rewards program, where customers who buy products receive $1 in store credit for every 100 points they accumulate.