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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Vitamin shop to sell full line of groceries

The new Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage that's coming to the former Borders Books space at 1715 N. Rock Road (Have You Heard? June 10) 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 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 organic produce and bulk items.

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

They're prepackaged 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 to 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."

Scrapping the store

The last Scrapbook Garden in Wichita is closing.

Bob and Kathy McCreary , who in 2008 lost their lease at Eastgate Plaza , now are closing their 12-year-old store at Maple and Ridge Road.

"Closing the store was a painful decision — one that we were forced to take given the current economic and retail environment," Bob McCreary says. "We were not willing to sign a long-term lease."

He says the landlord wanted them to sign for another five years. The McCrearys wanted to sign a two-year lease.

"Up to the very end we were buying product and hopeful that he would come to the table, but it just never did materialize," McCreary says.

The store was closed Wednesday but will reopen at 10 a.m. today for a closing sale, which will run until merchandise and fixtures are liquidated.

"We're aggressively marking things down from 25 to 75 percent off," McCreary says. "When it's gone is when we'll be out."

He says he and his wife didn't think trying to move the store would work.

"It would be hard to communicate a new location," he says. "There would be a lot of build-up cost ... associated with a new property."

Also, McCreary says, the scrapbooking trend peaked in 2004.

He says a lot of the store's employees have been there the entire dozen years the store has been open.

"That's one of the reasons why it was so painful to close."

He says there is "a bright point in all this gloom."

"Our scrapbookers and paper crafters will love this sale."

So long, Amy

One of the Wichita area's five Amy's Hallmark stores is closing, but that's it for now.

The store at 21st and Ridge Road will close after business on July 20.

District manager Cliff Sallee says due to the economy, retail sales are not as strong as they once were. He says a drop in consumer confidence is creating a challenge, and traffic at malls and strip centers is down.

After the west-side store closes, he says, "We will still have four other locations in the market to serve our customers."

You don't say

"I can't possibly be that old."

Best of Times owner Nancy Robinson on her store, which is in Normandie Center , turning 30 on July 7

Got a hot tip or quirky story? Call Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or e-mail

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