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June 12, 2012 > A Sunflower sprouts in Fremont

A Sunflower sprouts in Fremont

A week of fanfare introduced Fremont to Sunflower Farmers Market which opened its doors to an appreciative crowd early Wednesday, June 6. Eager shoppers, hoping to be rewarded with free groceries if within the first 200 in line, listened as Steve Black, Vice President of Operations and Store Director Kendall Jamison welcomed them to the newest addition of the chain specializing in fresh produce, organic foods, and specialty meat products. Mayor Gus Morrison, Vice Mayor Anu Natarajan and councilmembers Bill Harrison and Sue Chan greeted the crowd and watched as shoppers christened the aisles and made cash registers ring.

In an ironic twist, the new Sunflower signs and private label brands will be replaced within months by the Sprouts brand. Sprouts, headquartered in Phoenix, AZ, recently completed a merger with Sunflower expanding its total store count to 144 with the addition of 37 existing Sunflower markets. In 2011, Sprouts acquired Henry's and Sun Farmers Markets and continues its rapid growth, adding another six facilities - five in California including two in San Jose, one in Mountain View, one in Walnut Creek and another in Ahwatukee Arizona - this year. Sunflower stores including the Fremont operation and six more Sunflower openings - the next one June 20, 2012 in San Jose - will begin changing signs and decor in July. Conversion of the Fremont store is scheduled for October 2012.

Although the transition from Sunflower to Sprout Farmers Market will entail new signage and private label design, Black says, "Most products will remain the same as they are today." He adds that although the name will change, "One of the magical things about a farmers market is that we try to maintain a local feel; if there are local products, we like to carry them and if the ethnic composition of an area warrants a different emphasis on product mix, we try to honor that." California openings of Sunflower in the Sacramento and Modesto markets have been well received and the same is anticipated in the Bay Area. "Our real estate team and the 'analytics' of the area drew us to Fremont," says Black. "So far, the response has been very positive and we know customers will respond to the unique 'feel' of Sunflower especially our fresh produce, natural and organic products, yogurt, homemade sausage, olive bar, coffee, vitamins and its other unique aspects."

Sunflower has an excellent reputation for value since its guiding concept has been and remains following the merger, to maintain a clean, intelligent and well-run operation that is not focused as much on decor as quality and modest pricing. The slogan, "serious food at silly prices" is more than a marketing tag line; it is the guiding principle for the company. Employees are trained to help customers and although there is a main warehouse for many purchases, local growers are encouraged to become part of the Sunflower family too. Black notes, for example, that local beekeepers often supply honey and nearby vineyards use Sunflower markets as a sales outlet.

A unique marketing approach of Sunflower Farmers Market has been "Double Coupon Wednesday." On that day, both the preceding and next week's coupons are valid so shoppers are able to take advantage of two weekly specials in a single day. In the tradition of farmers' markets held outdoors usually on a weekly basis, Sunflower employees are trained to help customers to understand the wide variety of items and give suggestions about their use.

Black says that extensive business hours (7 a.m. - 11 p.m.) will help shoppers plan their trips to avoid congestion and ease traffic concerns.

Sunflower Farmers Market
3900 Mowry Ave., Fremont
(Prior location of Barnes & Noble)
(510) 284-1050

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