Sunflower Opens Today
The end of Walmart’s grocery tyranny over the Oklahoma City market is officially under way.The first brick to the road to better choices will be pressed into the ground today as Sunflower Farmers Market opens its doors at the corner of NW 63 Street and May Avenue. While I don’t begrudge Walmart its right to compete in our free market, I do hate the effect the stores have on our grocery choices. The worldwide discount monolith’s shadow has kept cloaked us from other grocers for far too long.
Fear of Walmart’s stranglehold has kept away the likes of Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s from considering us for business. But with Whole Foods due to arrive some time around Halloween, the national view of Oklahoma City has changed.
While Whole Foods is the great white shark in this insurgency, Sunflower is a humble pilot fish, cleaning up on the residual patronage in markets all over the Southwest. This time the pilot fish is swimming lead.
- Related to this story
- Video: Sunflower Farmers Market opens Oklahoma City location (2011-08-30)
And what a catch it is for the Oklahoma City market. With an incredible array of fresh produce, a large selection of bulk foods, organic meats and products, Sunflower is a game-changer.
Choice is now king, and that’s a good thing. This is the kind of store that’s had Buy For Less and Homeland in overdrive to pull off extreme makeovers in the last year. And the good news is, it’s only the beginning. Whole Foods is poised to be the biggest retail opening since Bass Pro Shops, but will leave a larger foot print.
As for Sunflower, it boasts a couple of Okies at the helm in Store Director Brad Carder and Vice President of Operations Steve Black.
Black, who said he’s worked 30 of his 34 years in the grocery business in Oklahoma, called Carder as soon as the ink was dry on an agreement to come into the market.
“We worked together at another retailer before,” Black said. “And I knew he would be the perfect fit.”
Carder said Oklahoma City residents are going to enjoy the store’s food — and perhaps more importantly, the prices.
Their tagline is “serious food, silly prices”
Black said the chain, which has support offices in Phoenix and Boulder, Colo., can offer low prices by reducing overhead costs and buying directly from vendors.
“We have our own distribution centers,” Black said.The new 28,000-square-foot Sunflower store is in the Country Club Corner shopping center and adjacent to Half Price Books and Autozone. Departments include floral, bakery, deli, natural living and more. A sushi bar, olive bar and large selection of gluten-free items are also featured. Local foods such as Watonga cheese, Big Sky Bread Co. bakery items and Head Country Barbecue sauce have places on the shelves and a huge bulk area features more than 200 items.
But the star is the produce section, which takes up nearly half the store.
“It’s the whole farmer’s market experience,” Black said. “Our model is a little different than most grocery stores in that we’re built around produce.”Black said the store also has Double Ad Wednesdays.
“Most stores advertisements run Wednesday through Tuesday, but ours overlap,” Black said. “So, if you shop on Wednesday you get the benefit of two ad cycles.”
The location was most recently Ballenger’s Furniture, preceding CompUSA, Homeland and Safeway.Akin’s Natural Foods Market is across the street, Whole Foods will be no more than a couple miles away and premium Buy For Less and Homeland store are only minutes west and south, respectively. But after attending a sneak peak and getting the chance to shop the store, I have no doubt this place is here to stay.
Congratulations Oklahoma City, you may now expect the best from your local grocer.
The store opens today and keep hours of 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
Have you been to Sunflower Farmers Market yet? Let me know what you thought.