Lakewood, Colo.-based Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers has turned its name upside down — to Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage.
"The name change was a thought-out effort to bring attention to the fact that we carry many groceries and produce as well as the vitamin supplements and nutritional coaching that we became famous for initially," said company spokeswoman Nancy Flynn. "The name, Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers, tended to only identify our nutritional supplements rather than the fact that about half of our floor space in most stores now is dedicated to natural and organic groceries and organic produce."
Margaret and Philip Isley started the company in 1955, going to door-to-door selling supplements and whole foods. They opened their first retail store in 1963 in Lakewood, selling primarily vitamins and supplements out of a small "cottage." But the balance has shifted over the years.
Sales growth in groceries and produce has surpassed the supplement sales from previous decades from 15 percent to 23 percent annually, "so you can see how it would influence a new market with this name change to more accurately reflect the full description of our offerings," Flynn said.
Owner Kemper Isely said the company is expecting around $190 million in sales this year. The grocery floor real estate accounts for about 60 percent of the company's sales.
Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, which continues to be family-owned, has 26 stores throughout Colorado and New Mexico. It plans to expand into Texas — the home of Whole Foods — as well as Utah this year.
Stores are small, averaging about 10,000 square feet, and the grocer emphasizes that it sets strict standards for its offerings as well as value pricing.