Organic grocery chain Earth Fare is shutting down, making it the second organic supermarket to announce closures this month.
In a release Monday, the Asheville, N.C.-based company announced that all of its stores would close and liquidation would begin immediately. The driving forces behind the shutdown, it said, were the changing retail market and challenges managing its debt.
“Earth Fare has been proud to serve the natural and organic grocery market, and the decision to begin the process of closing our stores was not entered into lightly," the chain said in a release. “We’d like to thank our team members for their commitment and dedication to serving our customers, and our vendors and suppliers for their partnership.”
Earth Fare has three locations in the Tampa Bay area and 14 in Florida. All of its employees were notified of the closures by Monday, the company said.
The chain is known for its adherence to clean, healthy food choices, opting not to sell food with antibiotics, added hormones, artificial colors and trans fats.
Just a year ago, Earth Fare announced that it planned to open 10 more locations in the bay area by 2021 as it tried to “build markets, not to build stores," CEO Frank Scorpiniti said at the time.
“Yes, there’s competition in food retail, but if you want a place that’s clean, that you can feel secure about what you’re bringing home, there’s only one place left in America and it’s Earth Fare,” he told the Tampa Bay Times in Feb. 2019.
The North Carolina chain’s closure announcement comes on the heels of Lucky’s Market pulling most of its stores out of Florida and abandoning plans for new ones. After grocery giant Kroger divested from the chain in December, Lucky’s said all of its Florida locations except a store in Melbourne would close by Feb. 12. That includes a St. Petersburg location and two planned locations in Clearwater and Brandon.