Independent grocer Native Sun Natural Foods Market is closing all three of its locations in Jacksonville, Fla. Owner Aaron Gottlieb, who announced the closings in a Facebook post, noted that the region had seen nine new specialty food stores open in the last four years.
“I started the company with my wife Erica to bring organic foods to the Jacksonville community,” he posted on Facebook. “It is exciting to see that clean food, free of GMOs and harmful chemicals, is now accessible at traditional grocery stores as well as big box stores, gas stations, airports—almost anywhere you shop. The times are changing. Technology is changing. Communication is changing. Most of all, how people shop is changing. We are all blessed and cursed with what these changes bring.”
Gottlieb said he was proud of the role the stores played in the providing a reliable source of clean label products for consumers. “We worked closely with manufacturers to challenge their ingredient integrity and had a direct hand in helping to ensure that not just Jacksonville, but everyone, had access to brands that met their ingredient expectations,” he added.
New competitors in the region include two outlets of the Kroger-backed Lucky's Market natural foods store and Sprouts Farmers Markets, which debuted in Jacksonville last month. Publix is also planning an outlet of its revamped GreenWise format in nearby Nocatee, Fla.
After 23 years in business, Gottlieb said the retail environment had changed with new grocers “sprouting up like weeds. …We are sad to say that we didn’t have a deep enough well to keep us going. We’re proud to have been your local grocer for 23 years. I deeply believe the local independent business is the heart of the community.”