Earth Fare is back. On February 3, 2020 Earth Fare announced that it will be beginning inventory liquidation sales. In September 2020, Earth Fare started reopening stores. And now, as of March 2022, Earth Fare is under new leadership and operating 23 stores with two more coming soon.
We went to Asheville last summer, and the town was amazing. It’s exactly what you expect from a forward-thinking hipster haven. So many businesses pride themselves on sustainability; organic and local products are the norm, not the exception; and there are more craft breweries than you can visit in a weekend.
But there was a time it wasn’t like this.
And that time was 1975, when Earth Fare first opened its doors. Well, okay, not exactly. In 1975, Roger Derrough actually started a grocery store called Dinner For The Earth selling bulk organic products and wellness products. Almost two decades later is when Dinner For The Earth changed its name to Earth Fare and started carrying more products.
The store’s expansion was steady. In November 2018, the 48th Earth Fare, and 11th in North Carolina, opened in our very own Wilmington, NC. We got a chance to visit the 22,000 square foot store during its VIP soft opening on Tuesday. Doors officially opened on Wednesday.
It’s the first time that Earth Fare has set up shop in Southeast North Carolina, so I figured this was a good time to introduce newbies to the store and give you some tips for shopping at Earth Fare.
This store has now closed and will not reopen. As of March 2022, a Total Wine & More is slated to go in that space.
Everything You Need To Know About Shopping At Earth Fare
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There’s a community advisory board.
Before a store starts ordering what it needs, Earth Fare puts together a community advisory board. The Wilmington, NC board consisted of 17 volunteer members, ranging from retirees to stay at home moms to medical professionals. They met three to four times before the store opened to help Earth Fare order products that the community needed and lacked in the area.
This is how some stores end up with a large Kosher selection, and how Wilmington ended up with a huge bulk assortment.
Sales start on Wednesday.
Just like many of our local stores, the sales run Wednesday to Tuesday. There are sale prices and BOGO offers. Most of the BOGO offers require you to purchase both items (many of our local supermarkets give you half off each item during a BOGO sale, so this is a big difference for Wilmington shoppers).
You need to join Healthy Rewards to get sales.
A shopper’s card is required for all sale prices. It’s free to sign up for one. After you register, you can either use the physical card at checkout or the store’s app from your phone.
With the program, for every 100 points you accumulate, you’ll get a $1 shopping credit to spend in store.
You can bring your own containers.
There are a ton of bulk options at Earth Fare. You can purchase as much or as little as you want. Earth Fare does provide plastic containers for this (including bear-shaped containers for honey), but you can also bring your own reusable containers.
If you do, head to customer service and get your containers weighed first. Since you’re paying for weight, you don’t want to also pay for the weight of your mason jar when you’re paying $9.99 a pound for honey.
Earth Fare has a lot of bulk items.
In fact, there are 175 organic, all-natural bulk items at the Wilmington Earth Fare grocery store. There’s granola, bulk liquid (which I’ve never seen before), bulk spices, baking items like flour, and more.
The bulk spices (which is my mom’s favorite part of the store) are non-irradiated.
So quick science lesson: many spices undergo ionized radiation in order to preserve them, extend shelf life, and kill any possible bacteria. Personally, we organically grow many of the herbs that we use in our cooking, but this time of year, all that’s flourishing is our oregano. That stuff has survived three hurricanes, two winters, and a six-inch snowfall. Our oregano crop and Chuck Norris will be the only things left at the end of the world.
So, I’m really impressed with the fact that Earth Fare has non-irradiated spices. Just don’t bulk too much when you’re there because they may not last as long as others you are used to.
Small, local fishermen are supported via the day boat program.
We watched a program not too long ago about fishermen and how it’s getting so difficult for the local fisherman. Between catch quotas and trying to catch enough to keep their business and families (bad pun alert) afloat, it’s a rough industry. Some nights, fisherman are out long into the night, potentially catching subpar products, just to have enough to sell. And those products can be sitting on the boat for a while before it heads to market.
Earth Fare has a day boat program. The store guarantees that it will buy the fisherman’s entire catch, large or small. So no matter what is caught that day, Earth Fare will purchase it. That’s amazing.
In addition, Earth Fare works with Inland Seafood, which is the largest seafood distributer in the southeast. Inland Seafood prides itself on having 100% traceable seafood, assuring that customers can feel informed about what they are purchasing and cooking for themselves and their families.
The meat is grass-fed.
Just because you eat meat doesn’t mean your meat has to. The meat at Earth Fare has an all vegetarian diet and is grass-fed.
You can live local.
Earth Fare carries a variety of local products. Of course, this will vary by location based on what is local there. In the Wilmington Earth Fare, bags of Port City Java are proudly displayed in the coffee section.
Local products will be called out via “Love Local” signage and shelf tags.
Basically, every diet is represented.
I know. You’re not supposed to say diet. You’re supposed to say lifestyle, but saying “every lifestyle is represented” seemed to give off a different vibe. But, moving along …
You can find nut-free, dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free products on the shelves. There are also a bunch of products for the plant based community too.
The items are dispersed throughout the shelves, rather than in their own sections. According to Laurie, who gave us the tour on Tuesday, Earth Fare doesn’t “want people to feel segmented.” So instead of them having to shop in a specific section of the store, they can shop anywhere.
There’s cheese. Lots of cheese.
If you know me, you know that I love cheese. It might not really be heart-healthy, but it makes my heart happy.
Earth Fare has four animal cheeses: cow, goat, sheep, and buffalo. It also has a bulk cheese service, in case you need to order in large quantities, and 95-pound Parmesan Reggiano wheels (the breaking of them is actually a store event).
If you’re lactose-intolerant, look for the Hand Picked label on that Parmesan Reggiano. It has been aged for 24 months, which (and I don’t know the science behind this but it) means people who are lactose-intolerant can have it without any issues.
Earth Fare makes healthy eating easy and affordable.
We cook almost every meal at home. That way, I really have control over what goes into our food. I can omit things like excess butter and salt. It takes a lot of planning though, and people just don’t always have the time for that.
Earth Fare can help. Each week, you can check Earth Fare’s website, which lays out the menu for the week. On Monday, you can get $5 rotisserie chicken. Wednesday is $5 sushi day. And there are $3 kids meals as well.
Plus, there is a lot of packaged food that you can take home and heat up. It looks delicious and a lot better than grabbing something from a fast food drive through.
There’s a Pizza Hotline.
Pete loves pizza. It’s his favorite meal. So of course, we’ll head back to Earth Fare to grab a pie ($6 on Friday; $7 on the weekends). The New York-style pies are made in a 500-degree oven and use tomatoes harvested from Modesto, California.
If you’re running errands and don’t really have time to wait for a fresh pie, you can actually call the pizza hotline ahead of time and order a take and bake pie.
There’s vegan pizza, too.
You can order a vegan pizza, if you need that. The vegan pizza dough is made with oil instead of butter and vegan cheese is an option.
You can get kale lemonade.
I love kale, so my eyes lit up when I heard about kale lemonade made from kale, lemons, apple juice, and ginger. When we go back for Pete’s pizza, I’ll be getting a kale lemonade from the Heirloom Juice Bar.
Of course, we’ll be going from 2 pm to 5 pm. That’s when you can get $1 off juice and smoothies at the juice bar.
There’s a full cafe.
If you want to sit and spend a while, you can. Earth Fare in Wilmington has 45 seats indoors and 15 outside. Plus free WiFi for customers as well.
So you can sit and enjoy your prepared food or drink from the Heirloom Juice Bar and get some work done, especially if you’re like me and you never stop working.
You can purchase cruelty-free beauty free beauty products.
Earth Fare has a full wellness and beauty center with close to 8,000 items available. These include PETA-friendly, cruelty-free, vegan, and gluten-free makeup items. There are also vitamins, hair products, beauty products, soaps, and more.
Each day, the wellness and beauty center will have a staff member who can educate patrons on products and a holistic approach to beauty and wellness. So, if shoppers have any questions, they can be answered right away.
There are lots of sweets.
Dessert is the best way to end a meal, so it’s a good way to end my things to know. Earth Fare has celebration sheet cakes that you can purchase for weddings and birthdays. Plus, there are cannolis, cupcakes, cookies that you can buy in bulk, and French macaroons hand filled by a French couple. I’m putting one (dozen) on my shopping list for next time.
Earth Fare Grocery Store: Frequently Asked Questions
Earth Fare is not owned by Whole Foods. They’re both similar groceries stores in their products and their shoppers, but they’re separate entities.
However, because of their similarities, when Earth Fare started liquidating properties and assets in 2020, Amazon-owned Whole Foods purchased a couple of the Earth Fare locations.
In February 2020, Earth Fare announced that it was beginning inventory liquidation sales. The end point was that all Earth Fare stores, and its corporate office, would close.
The Earth Fare stores closing were vacated in the following two to four weeks.
That September, Earth Fare started reopening stores with nine locations including flagship city Asheville, NC. It is now up to almost two dozen reopened stores.
As of March 2022, there are 23 open locations with two more slated to open soon.
No, Earth Fare does not have an app. However, Earth Fare does use Instacart and you can order groceries from the store that way.
Have you been to an Earth Fare grocery store? Let us know about your experience in the comments.