With a nary a door opened nor a dollar earned, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market President and CEO Chris Sherrell this week announced an expanded 60-store, five-year vision for the much-anticipated natural products chain launching this year in the Midwest.
The initial “conservative” vision for the company outlined a 48-store plan.
An Arctic blast may have delayed the announced January opening for Fresh Thyme’s inaugural Mount Prospect, Ill., store, now set to open in April. But the cold weather hasn't put a chill on the real estate developer excitement that has fueled 23 Fresh Thyme deals in seven states.
“What better to have than a new progressive natural foods store that really caters to the masses,” Sherrell said. “We’ve had just a ton of welcome from developers and landlords looking to regentrify and look to the future on their property.”
Fresh Thyme’s real estate philosophy spans the gamut from new builds to redevelopment, from urban to suburban. In the high-growth launch stage, real estate opportunity is key, especially to achieve the six- to eight-store density Sherrell envisions in some target markets.
Meanwhile, his team is “knee deep” in its search for the optimal distribution center and headquarter locations. Currently, Fresh Thyme operates from a local operations center in Chicago and a temporary headquarters in Phoenix, where Sherrell led Sunflower Farmers Market until its merger with Sprouts Farmers Markets in 2012.
Fresh Thyme expands the 28,000-square-foot farmers market style concept to an area of the country that has not had this kind of grocery shopping experience, Sherrell said.
“We want to get that first one open so we can actually call ourselves a grocery store,” Sherrell said. “When we get two, we can call ourselves a grocery chain.”
The chain is growing with these store locations announced Tuesday:
Spring 2014: 211 W. Rand Road; Mount Prospect, IL 60056
Summer 2014: 35 Waukegan Road; Deerfield, IL 60015
2015: 6567 N. Illinois St.; Fairview Heights, IL 62208; 321 Ogden Ave.; Downers Grove, IL 60515; Naperville and Joliet
Summer 2014: 8750 U.S. Highway 31, Indianapolis, IN 46227; 4225 E. 82nd St., Indianapolis, IN 46250; 4310 Coldwater Road, Fort Wayne, IN 46805
Fall 2014: 282 S. Creasy Lane, Lafayette, IN 47905
2015: 2342 W. 86th St., Indianapolis, IN 46260
2015: 940 Trowbridge Road, East Lansing, MI 48823
2015: 8005 Penn Ave. S., Bloomington, MN 55431
2015: Ballwin and 10798 Manchester Road, Kirkwood, MO 63122
Fall 2014: 11349 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH 45249 and 3321 Alamo Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45209
Summer 2015: 6700 Sawmill Road, Columbus, OH 43235
2015: 4341 Feedwire Road, Centerville, OH 45440 and 2850 Centre Drive, Fairborn, OH 45324
2015: Brookfield and Milwaukee