Fresh Market Eyes Union Avenue Ike's

By Amos Maki

By this time next year, Midtown residents could be shopping at a new Fresh Market grocery store.

Union Avenue Fresh Market concept plan

The upscale grocery chain is eyeing the Union Avenue Ike's, which a Walgreen Co. representative confirmed will be shuttered.

"We have decided to close the Ike's location at 2145 Union Ave.," said Emily Hartwig of Walgreen Co. corporate media relations. "We anticipate finding opportunities for all employees of that store at other Walgreens locations in the area. Customers of that store will have their prescriptions automatically transferred to the nearby 24-hour Walgreens at 1863 Union Ave., just half a mile down the street.

Earlier this year, Walgreen closed the gas station at that Ike's, saying it was a "corporate decision to withdraw from the gasoline business."

Customers shop at Ike’s, 2145 Union Ave. The store could close by the end of the year, making way for a new Fresh Market, which has been eyeing Midtown. 

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

Several sources have said The Fresh Market would likely lease the property and convert the pharmacy and store into one of its upscale grocery markets.

Officials from The Fresh Market could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Fresh Market currently has a store at 835 S. White Station Road, inside the Eastgate Shopping Center, and one at 9375 Poplar Ave. in Germantown.

The Fresh Market specializes in all-natural, organic and specialty products – everything from meats and fish to coffees and candy.

The Memphis area is going through something of a grocery renaissance era.

Cincinnati-based The Kroger Co. is investing heavily in the area, pouring around $100 million into new stores and redeveloping older ones. Kroger has replaced its store in the large retail center at Poplar and Highland Street and is planning an ambitious new store to replace its existing Union Avenue location. In addition to Kroger, Whole Foods is currently expanding its location on Poplar in East Memphis and has submitted plans to the city of Germantown for a new store there. The Cash Saver grocery store on Madison Avenue in Midtown is undergoing significant improvements.

In 2010, Walgreen bought out USA Drug’s prescription files and acquired the Ike’s stores on Union and Park Avenue. Both stores still carry the Ike’s name, although Walgreen is building a new drugstore at Poplar Avenue and White Station Road to replace the Ike’s on Park.

In 2011, Walgreen Co.’s top rival, CVS, bought the Union Avenue United Methodist Church property across Cooper Street from the Ike’s and erected a new store there.

Real estate experts have said that if Walgreen Co. were to change directions with the Union Avenue Ike’s store, it would likely convert the 1.09-acre property to a non-pharmacy-based retailer, such as a grocer.

The Fresh Market has had its sights set on Midtown Memphis for some time, and the Ike’s location on Union – with high visibility and traffic counts – should be inviting. The Union Avenue Ike’s store is roughly 27,800 square feet. The Fresh Market stores are typically between 22,000 and 26,000 square feet.