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After closing all stores, Earth Fare files for bankruptcy

The organic grocer owes money to several food distributors as well as Instacart.
The wellness and beauty section at the Earth Fare grocery store in Seminole after it opened four years ago. [Times (2016)] [EDELHEIT, EVE  |  Tampa Bay Times]
The wellness and beauty section at the Earth Fare grocery store in Seminole after it opened four years ago. [Times (2016)] [EDELHEIT, EVE | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Feb. 4

A day after announcing it would close down all of its stores, Earth Fare filed for bankruptcy Tuesday.

The North Carolina-based organic grocer has three locations in Tampa Bay and another in Sarasota. In total, there are 14 Florida stores.

Filings from its bankruptcy case in Delaware show the chain first began exploring selling off the company in November. Ultimately, company leadership recommended filing for relief under chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Related: Organic grocery chain Earth Fare is shutting down

As part of its filing, the organic food stores had to list its top creditors. The documents show that Earth Fare owes food distributor UNFI — or United Natural Foods, Inc. — about $9.6 million.

The food distributor, headquartered in Rhode Island, has a large warehouse in Sarasota. A handful of other food distributors on the list, from meat to fish companies, are also owed several million dollars.

The documents show the chain owed more than $750,000 to a Jacksonville developer and $216,000 to grocery delivery app company Instacart.

The bankruptcy filing comes just over a week since one of its competitors, Lucky’s Market, filed for bankruptcy and closed all but seven locations.

Earth Fare blamed a changing retail market and challenges managing debt as factors leading to its decision to shut down stores.

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