By DAVID JONES
Editor at Large
HOMEGROWN MANAGER: Doug Everett is happy to be managing the new Fresh Market grocery store located at 8015 S. Yale Ave.
BETH TURNER for GTR Newspapers
Sure, Doug Everett wants you to come to his place to buy groceries. He runs a grocery store.
But he wants you to leave having had a great experience. The Fresh Market, newly opened at 8015 S. Yale Ave. in a store recently vacated by Border’s bookstore, is dedicated to high-end grocery shopping.
“We’re a specialty store,” Everett, Fresh Market’s manager, says proudly. “We’re not your standard one-stop grocery store. I’d guess 50 to 60 percent of the items we sell aren’t available elsewhere locally.”
The Fresh Market has a decidedly non-metallic look with polished wood everywhere and classical music piped in from a local radio station. It is designed to allow the customer to feel a little special, a little less hurried. The staff reflects the surroundings. “We have hired close to 100 people; from the people re-supplying the produce to the butchers to the cashiers, they are experience-makers. It is important that everyone who comes in has a great experience.”
The Tulsa location is the 117th in a chain that got its start in Greensboro, N.C. and has been exploding in number since 2000. The new Tulsa operation missed out by a week to a Fresh Market in Wichita, Kan. being the first in the chain to head west of the Mississippi River.
Why Tulsa? “What the company looks for is areas where people have an appreciation for high-quality food, and Tulsa certainly fits that niche. The downturn in the economy over the past few years hasn’t hurt us at all. We’ve been successful wherever we’ve opened,” he says.
“We try always to offer the best of everything. Our produce is carefully selected, as is our meat, which is always of top quality. Our chicken is hormone- and antibiotic-free and raised on a natural diet. We are very particular about what we allow in our store.”
The Fresh Market doesn’t ignore local producers. “We held an open house for local vendors, and we’ve gotten to know a lot of them. Right now we are featuring marvelous peaches from Porter and great Bixby tomatoes.”
Shoppers can find the standard soft drinks at The Fresh Market, many at prices higher than they would expect to pay. “We offer them as a convenience,” says Everett. But where else can you find Boylan Cream Soda, Joia Pineapple Coconut & Nutmeg or Bleinheim’s Ginger Ale?
Everett is also proud of the cheese selection his store offers. “We have roughly 200 kinds of cheese and if one is unfamiliar to you we’ll let you try a sample.”
As you would expect there is a wide selection of already prepared foods from numerous types of baked chicken, pork roasts and ribs. Sushi is made fresh daily and the hamburger meat is ground every day. If unsold at the end of the day, the leftovers are either chucked or donated to a kitchen to feed the homeless.
“We donate millions of dollars a year in food and we’re really proud of that.”
Everett says he is glad to be in the Tulsa area. “We found a house in Broken Arrow and the people here have been terrific.”
He is also delighted with his new place of business.
“This isn’t a drop-in grocery store; it’s a destination market.”