Natural Grocers Opens Second Tulsa Store
By EMILY RAMSEY
HEALTH IS IN: On Oct. 22, Natural Grocers opened its second Tulsa location at 3126 S. Harvard Ave. The company opened its first location, 9137 E. 71st St., in June.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
The growth of natural and organic grocery stores continues to spread throughout greater Tulsa. On Oct. 22, Natural Grocers opened its second Tulsa store at 3126 South Harvard Avenue. The company opened its first location, 9137 E. 71st St., in June.
The health food company chose to come to Tulsa because “we found that the Tulsa customer is conscientious, looking for healthy yet cost-effective food,” says Director of Marketing Nancy Flynn. The Harvard store, Natural Grocers’ 73rd location, came about due to a very obvious need, Flynn says. “We heard from so many customers, ‘can you put one closer to my house?’”
The new store is close to 17,000 square feet, and, like the first Tulsa store, rather than construct a new building, Natural Grocers renovated an existing, previously-vacant structure. “It was attractive to us to be able to reuse a property,” Flynn says. “It goes along with our environmental conscientiousness, to be able to come in to a community and renovate an existing building.”
The company’s efforts for low-environmental impact show up throughout all of its stores. From its use of low paint and lighting to stores’ lack of paper and plastic grocery bags, which were completely eliminated in 2009. “We are currently working to find a way to rid our stores of plastic produce bags,” Flynn says. Shoppers are encouraged to bring in reusable bags, in which five cents is donated to the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. Customers who don’t bring in a bag receive shipping boxes for grocery transport.
Though its environmental focus plays a prominent role in the company, Natural Grocers made its name with nutrition education. Company founders Philip and Margaret Isley started out selling whole grain bread door to door and sharing nutrition information before opening their first store in 1955 in Lakewood, Colo.
The company regularly offers free nutrition seminars, and a credentialed nutritional health coach is always on hand during store hours. The store backs up its nutrition education with its offerings of natural and organic products, including selling solely certified organic produce.
Its products are free of artificial flavors and colors, bleached flours, hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils, and harmful chemicals.
Besides carrying strictly organic produce, Natural Grocers stores are certified organic, meaning that each store follows strict handling procedures of its organic produce and products.
Another company mission is its community involvement. Stores feature a community room with free coffee and wifi, a demonstration kitchen to host free cooking classes, and a meeting room that can be used by groups. “We differentiate ourselves by supporting the community and our employees, offering free nutrition education, and the quality and affordability of our products,” says Flynn. “This family walks the walk.”
And it appears to be resonating with customers. Natural Grocers is now found in 13 states.
Clearly, as the Tulsa market for organic, healthy eating choices increases, Natural Grocers will be right at home.