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Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage coming to the former Borders Books space

Friday, June 10 2011 12:00 AM


Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage will be a full-scale grocery store with a deli

WICHITA — The new Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage that’s coming to the former Borders Books space at 1715 N. Rock Road will be a complete grocery store in addition to a vitamin shop.

“A great many of our customers do just that — they only shop for groceries at our stores,” says co-president Kemper Isely.

“We offer our products at everyday affordable pricing.”

The Denver-area family business started in 1955. When it opens here Dec. 13, the Wichita store will be the company’s 51st.

The chain used to be called Vitamin Cottage by Natural Grocers.

“Since we sell more groceries, we changed our name,” Isely says.

He says the company sells only 100 percent organically grown produce and fresh and frozen meat that is hormone and antibiotic free. Also, he says, there’s a line of frozen natural foods in addition to 100 percent organic produce and bulk items.

“We do it a little bit differently,” Isely says of the bulk items.

They’re prepackage to avoid contamination, he says.

“We also refrigerate all our nuts and seeds and flowers that can go rancid.”

The store will be 24,000 square feet. About 1,500 of that will be for a seminar room, which Isely says nonprofits can use for free.

Another 1,500 square feet will be for a natural food deli.

Isely says the company will try and find someone outside the company to open the deli.

“We would like to partner with somebody local rather than a national chain.”

Mark McPherson of Kansas City-based Equity Ventures Commercial Development and James Craddock of Colorado-based Craddock Commercial Real Estate represented Natural Grocers in the 10-year lease agreement.

New York-based Agree Realty Corp, and Scott Harper of Landmark Commercial Real Estate represented the building owner.

Isely says in Wichita, Natural Grocers most closely resembles GreenAcres Market.

“We’re fairly unique in what we do,” he says. “We don’t really compete with a conventional grocery store. We’re more complementary to them.”

The company is planning to open a store in Lawrence, which is what got it interested in Wichita.

“You know, I think we could actually open two stores in Wichita,” Isely says.

“It depends on whether the right site comes available.”

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