Mesa has attracted a high-end produce and health-food store the city thought might pass it by as the business expanded in the Valley.
In March, Scottsdale-based Sprouts Farmers Markets plans to open its fifth store, in a strip mall at the southwest corner of Brown and Gilbert roads. Seth Brown, Sprouts' vice president of store development, said the health-food retailer was never out to snub Mesa when it opened its first store in Chandler in July 2002 and then others in Scottsdale, Glendale and northeast Phoenix. "This is a small, start-up company, and we didn't come in here with millions of dollars lining our pockets," he said.
He said the four stores have exceeded expectations, giving the corporation the confidence to move into other parts of the Valley — including, he said, an established part of Mesa where some of the preconceptions of Mesa's demographics may hold true and work to Sprouts' advantage.
"North Mesa has a lot of Mormons who are certainly interested in eating very healthy food. Health food is in the Book of Mormon," he said. "There are also a lot of older, value-oriented customers in Mesa, especially in northwest Mesa."
Brown said the number of Mesa residents who shop at the Chandler and Scottsdale stores and the relative lack of supermarkets in the vicinity also drew their attention to the area.
The stores combine elements of farmers’ markets, high-end delis, health food and supplement stores, "with a little bit of Trader Joe's thrown in," he said.
City Councilman Mike Whalen said he hadn't known Sprouts was coming, but "when I told my wife, she said, ‘Yay!' She's into that sort of thing. I'm more of a Twinkie kind of guy."