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VOL. 129 | NO. 157 | Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fresh Market Debuts Midtown Store

By Amos Maki

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For a while now Central Gardens resident Tom Clifton has been driving to East Memphis to get his groceries.

But early on Wednesday, Aug. 13, Clifton was one of hundreds of people who showed up at the corner of Union Avenue and Cooper Street for the grand opening of The Fresh Market Inc.’s new Midtown grocery store.

Kimberly Weber and son Everette browse the juice selection at the new Fresh Market location at 2145 Union Ave.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

For Clifton and others, the opening of the new location meant higher quality foods, shorter drives and a resurgent Midtown.

“I have been starving for quality groceries and for a long time I’ve been driving out east to get quality chicken and quality beef and now I won’t have to,” Clifton said.

The Fresh Market launched its third Memphis location at 2145 Union Ave. at 8 a.m. with grand opening activities that included giveaways, food tastings, chef demonstrations and a gift card drawing. A long line of shoppers stretched around the store’s entrance and snaked along the parking lot to Union before the doors of the new location opened.

Betty Rye, a self-described contest lover who enjoys new store openings, made the early-morning trip to Midtown from Cordova.

“I came because it’s a new store,” Rye said. “I like to come to grand openings like this and I love to enter contests, all kinds of them.”

Alice Barkley has lived in Midtown off and on since 1943. Barkley and her husband, Nat, said they were hungry for fresh, quality produce and competition against the dominant grocer in the Memphis market, Kroger.

“We’ve been looking forward to this,” Barkley said. “I really think the products will be better. It’s good to have this in the neighborhood.”

The Fresh Market has been hard at work transforming the former Ike’s into one of its upscale stores. The 23,400-square-foot store includes a bakery, a full-service meat counter, a wide array of ready-to-serve entrées, fresh seafood, hundreds of imported and domestic cheeses, and produce, including a large organic selection.

“We did it,” said Rachel Booker, new store coordinator for The Fresh Market.

Booker said the Greensboro, N.C.-based grocer was expecting a large turnout but was still impressed by the number of people who showed up for the store’s opening.

“This is a little overwhelming but we anticipated a large amount of people to be waiting for us,” Booker said. “We love it. You don’t get into retail to sit still.”

Booker, a native Memphian, has worked for The Fresh Market for 12 years and travels around the country opening new stores for the company, so the launch of the new Midtown location provided a few more days at home and a sense of pride.

“With this store I’m very excited,” Booker said.

Shoppers also said they were thrilled to participate in the investment revival happening in Midtown, where the Sears Crosstown redevelopment is underway and Overton Square and the Broad Avenue Arts District have sprung back to life.

“It’s just exciting to be a part of the continued upgrading of Midtown,” Clifton said.

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