Native Sun Natural Foods Market will reopen February 12 in Jacksonville BeachNews. Sports Entertainment Lifestyle Opinion USA TODAY Obituaries E-Edition Legals
Native Sun Natural Foods Market is back to business in Jacksonville Beach on Wednesday, February 12 – nearly six months since its owner closed all three popular organic and health food stores in Jacksonville to much competition.
Owner Aaron Gottlieb said the reopening of the natural and organic grocery and deli on Third St. N. in 1585 shows his renewed commitment to the community.
“When Native Sun opened, we were there for the community to really hear what their health needs were,” Gottlieb told the Times Union on Tuesday. The goal, he said, is to help people with healthy lifestyle options.
“Traditional grocery stores are there to sell you groceries, not to sell you a lifestyle and community hangout. When we reopened, we really wanted to make sure Jacksonville Beach had a grocer in the community that would stand alongside traditional grocers and be a win for the community, ”said Gottlieb.
Gottlieb announced the reopening – eagerly awaited by customers across Northeast Florida – with the message: “The sun is rising again” on the store’s Facebook page.
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Native Sun’s reopening comes amid the recent abrupt shutdowns of two national chains of natural and organic grocers: Earth Fare and Lucky’s Markets.
“I neither open a chain nor do I try to be a chain,” said Gottlieb. When he and his wife opened Native Sun in 1997, he said they believed they were meeting a community need.
“We felt that there was a void in people’s ability to learn about health, and a place where people can get delicious food that is aware of how it’s grown and affects the body that affects people, “he said. “Our goal was to give organic products to everyone.”
He noted, “If you look at the industry, it would seem to the outsider, if you didn’t know better, that organic is available everywhere.” However, they were frustrated that the quality of the organics put on the market fluctuated significantly in the products sold, Gottlieb said.
“There were a lot of products on the market that used to be about how to fill the void for people’s health. And everything became copycat products in the market and see how low the cost could be. Some of it is great, ”said Gottlieb, adding that with multiple stores opening, it is difficult to maintain the quality of the products and the customer service.
“With a business, you can get better quality, better service and focus on making the experience special for the customer,” said Gottlieb.
He said their Jacksonville Beach business had grown despite competition and compared to their other Native Sun stores on 10000 San Jose Blvd. and 11030 Baymeadows Road.
“We predicted that there would be a huge impact on grocery stores and we predicted that these would be the newest players in the market,” he said.
Last August, Gottlieb closed all three stores, citing the “dramatic increase” in the number of grocery stores in the Jacksonville area – including nine grocery stores since 2015 – as the reason for the closure.
Two of these grocers – Lucky’s Markets and Earth Fare – have announced the closure of all or most of their stores across the country in the past two weeks. The two brands operated five stores in the Jacksonville area prior to their announced closure.
“We just leaned back and held on. We believed the market, Jacksonville in particular, was a community place and the communities love having a local grocer, and they like chains like Publix, which is a great traditional grocer, ”said Gottlieb.
He said at the end of the day they saw that Native Sun could fit and thrive in the Jacksonville market. So they decided to reopen the Jacksonville Beach store, which opened in late 2017.
“We will only have one business from now on, but we will put everything we have into this business! … We are happy to be one, ”he said.
Native Sun’s return began last November when Gottlieb opened a pop-up restaurant in the Jacksonville Beach store in response to customer encouragement and the community marketplace.
The new take-away delicatessen has a large salad and olive bar as well as a selection of soups and many of their customers’ favorite delicacies, Gottlieb said.
“We’re converting our deli into a restaurant that has separate hours and staff. It’s really about making lunch and dinner an organic food destination at Native Sun,” he said of one of the stores. Key Features.
The grab-and-go area will be available all day, while the restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner at 11 a.m., he said.
Gottlieb has rounded up many of his former employees to work in the reopened store, which will have some new products, and have a new layout to make it easier for customers to find what they need and want.
The nutrition department is in the center aisle instead of being separated in another part of the store. They train their employees “not to sell vitamins, but to learn about the lifestyle of the entire business,” he said.
Gottlieb said their philosophy is the same as when Native Sun was founded – to serve the community.
“We are very happy to be part of the Beaches community again,” he said.
Teresa Stepzinski: (904) 359-4075
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