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VOL. 116 | NO. 44 | Tuesday, March 5, 2002

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Natural foods store reenters Midtown Natural foods store finds home in Square By SUE PEASE The Daily News For Midtown residents aching for more selection in health food purchasing, the wait is almost over. A new health food store, but one reminiscent of the past, willopen soon in Overton Square. "The people who have shopped in natural food stores in the past in Midtown are going to walk in and go, Whoa, I think Ive walked back in time," said Jeanice Blancett, owner of Square Foods Natural Market, who hopes to open the business in late spring. Blancett, who was operations manager for 10 years at the former Squash Blossom, said that when the Wild Oats store on Union Avenue closed, she and many of the stores employees saw the need to fill the gap the stores closing left. The new store will employ 23 people, many who are former Squash Blossom employees. "It will be reminiscent of the Squash Blossom that was once at the corner of Poplar and Evergreen. And, as a matter of fact, we will pretty much have the same staff," Blancett said. After a long and, at times frustrating, search, Square Foods Natural Market found a home in the vacant Cancun Restaurant at 2094 Madison Ave. With its proximity to Boscos Squared and Studio on the Square, the location is a good fit, Blancett said. "Overton Square is where natural foods first was introduced (in Memphis) in 1979, so I think its pretty neat we have it again just right across the street from where it started." The new store will have a large selection of natural foods items including organic produce, groceries, vitamins and supplements, and food service, but the experienced staff is the selling point in Blancetts opinion. "The staff is so incredibly knowledgeable," she said. "With the staff coming on board, we have well over 90 years of experience in natural foods retailing, cooking and in just every department," she said. The building, which was home to Cancun for several years, needed few renovations. Blancett said the interior space will need some reworking, but mostly minor cosmetic changes are in store. The store is 7,200 square feet. About 4,500 square feet will be used for retail space, with the rest for food service. A 1,100-square-foot outside deck will be used for dining along with counter and inside seating. Square Foods might be the newest market to open in Midtown, but its not the only whole foods market in the area. Another such store, the Midtown Food Co-Op, 2158 Central Ave., opened in August. Blancett said the two operations would benefit each other. "I think well complement each other real well." Jonathan Harrison, chair of the board of directors for the co-op, said he was aware of the new store entering the area, but not its format yet. However, he believed having more alternatives to find healthy foods was beneficial. The competition to the new food co-op was a worry for Stacey Greenberg, Tucker-Jefferson Neighborhood Association president, but she agreed the new store would complement the co-op. She also said association members she had contacted are excited about the new store and are happy to hear it will be reminiscent of the former Squash Blossom. "We prefer the non-chain atmosphere," she said.
PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751