It's the first King Soopers of its kind in Colorado, and it's aimed at luring discriminating, savvy shoppers searching for fresh, organic produce, all-natural foods, upscale pastries, cheeses from around the globe, salumi, prime-grade beef, fresh seafood and fish and just about anything else you'd expect from a high-end grocer. Fresh Fare by King Soopers, which opened yesterday at Kent Place, a new mixed-use retail and loft dwelling community at University Boulevard and Hampden, is, some would insist, the grocer's own version of Whole Foods Market, although Russ Dispense, CEO of King Soopers, dismisses that notion.
"We have versions of this store across the nation, and they're stores that we design to target specific demographics and serve the communities where they're built, and it's something that we've been doing for a long time," says Dispense, who started his career with King Soopers 49 years ago as a sacker at a now-defunct Lakeside store.
And what separates this market experience from others, he adds, is the fact that it's all-encompassing, catering to those who just need the basic staples, as well as to the shopper that's on the prowl for organic produce, grass-fed beef, stinky French cheeses and innovative take-and-bake pizzas. "We have everything here, including natural and organic products, unique products that you won't see sold anywhere else in Colorado, plus your everyday shopping essentials," notes Dispense, adding that the supermarket sells more organic produce than anywhere else in the state. In addition, the market, as a whole, carries more that 8,000 natural and/or organic products, many of which are made in Colorado.
And while the average square footage of a King Soopers is 125,000 square feet, Fresh Fare is far more intimate, with a mere 30,000 square feet. "When we first embarked on this project, we wanted a big store -- this is an underserved community -- but as the scope of the development changed, we decided to change it to a smaller concept," says Dispense, who reveals that Coloradoans shop at a King Soopers store more than four million times a week, every week.
But despite its petite size, there's no dearth of products, many of which -- honey, agave, olive oils and vinegars, for example, available from bulk dispensers -- are items that you see at competing markets, but here, you won't likely spend your whole paycheck. "Our products are very high quality, but our prices are still low," stresses King Soopers spokesperson Kelli McGannon.
I toured the store yesterday, perusing the easy to navigate aisles stocked with everything from various sea salts to raw naked kale chips, ogling over the heirloom tomatoes and multicolored carrots with their leafy tops, the lovely fondant cakes in the bakery case and Murray cheese display, intently watching the sushi chefs slice and dice and peering upward toward the glass-encased mezzanine, where a staff of chefs roast many of the store's meats and cook the prepared foods, which comprise a vast section of space, It's a carefully thought out market, and certainly one that will give other like-minded grocers a run for their money.
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Here's a photo spread of what you can expect to see when you shop.