Earth Fare is an eastern United States chain of stores based out of Asheville, NC that is operating in seven states, including their newest store in the Montrose/Fairlawn area which has its grand opening today. Corley May, Web Content Producer for Earth Fare, contacted me last Thursday wondering if I would be interested in touring the new store. When Corley sweetened the deal by throwing in not one, but TWO $50 gift cards to give away to my lucky readers, how could I say no?
After agreeing to the terms with Corley, I quickly realized that I could use the coverage of this national chain to help showcase a locally owned and operated chain of stores familiar to Cleveland and Akron residents alike, Mustard Seed Market. I contacted the folks at Mustard Seed Market, explained what had transpired, and asked if they'd be willing to balance out the Earth Fare review in a two-part write-up, the second installment of which will post this Friday. Not only did they agree, but they graciously also decided to donate two $50 gift cards, too! That's right, gentle reader, over the next couple of days, I'll be giving away $200 worth of gift cards!
But now to the main topic of today's post: Earth Fare. The new store is located at 3737 West Market Street, Fairlawn, OH 44333 and can be reached at 330-668-3500. The store is positioned in the same strip mall that houses Bruegger's, Pier One, and Hobby Lobby (CompUSA and Borders used to be in the same building). They have both a Facebook page as well as a Twitter account.
Here was a shot of the exterior of the new store:
Once inside the main door, I was greeted by store representative Kristi Kanzig, Assistant Director of Marketing, who graciously showed me around the new store pointing out some of the major points of interest. Since I wanted to give my readers out there a visual perspective of what they can expect, my descriptions will be fairly terse.
Earth Fare wants you to know its philosophy on food right from the get-go. This was just inside the main door in the produce area.
Produce area. Beige labels are conventionally grown produce, orange labels are organic, and green labels mean locally grown produce from within 100 miles of the Fairlawn store.
One of Earth Fare's commitments is to partner with smaller family farms (not necessarily within 100 miles or organic). This symbol indicates that the item was produced on such a farm.
This symbol on an item indicates that it was produced on a local farm from within 100 miles of the Fairlawn store (again, it doesn't necessarily mean it is organic or from a small family farm).
During the first twelve weeks that the store is open, various produce will rotate in and out of the "Thank You" specials.
Just beyond the produce section was the bulk foods area. Grains, flour, seeds, nuts, rice, candy, trail mixes, they've got quite the selection.
At the rear of the store behind the bulk foods was the seafood and butchery areas. All meats are labeled organic/non-organic, place of origin, grass-fed/conventional, and whether the fish was farm-raised or wild caught.
When I asked Kristi about those with special dietary needs, she helpfully pointed out this row, noting that items that are Gluten Free not only have signs indicating as such, but the front of these shelves had wooden surfaces instead of the brown metal on all of the others.
In the middle of the store was a wellness area containing a wide selection of vitamins, supplements, herbal remedies, teas and much more. This location will have someone on staff to assist customers in finding exactly what they need.
Also in the wellness area were the bulk herbs and spices. While you can buy a glass jar from Earth Fare, if you have your own, bring it and stop by the customer service area and they will note the weight of your bottle coming in, so you only pay for the difference when you leave.
At the opposite rear point in the store was the cheese section. This was one of two cases of artisan cheeses and there was a third case of more bulk-style cheese. Tasting is encouraged.
In front of the cheese area (moving closer to the front of the store) was the wine and beer area. Here was a selection of incredibly reasonably priced wines geared at organic/sulfite-free/locally made/conventional wine drinkers. Wines are helpfully labeled to help shoppers navigate.
The beer selection contained beer at many levels from Pabst Blue Ribbon (which Kristi pointed out) to many micro-brews and imports (I noticed Sam Smiths ... always a good choice).
Between the wine and beer "walls" was a section that contained special selections for the week that ran $15 or less. This will be a great way for Earth Fare to showcase specific wines to customers.
As we moved closer to the front of the store, we entered the hot and cold food service areas. One of the items that Kristi spent some time discussing was the weekly Thursday Family Dinner Night.
This was the pizza and sandwich prep area. Not only will pizzas be available for purchase and consumption at the store, but par-baked pizzas will also be available to take home and finish baking yourself.
Moving diagonally across the isle from the previous station we found the in-house bakery. Here was a shot of some of the freshly baked breads and pies made in preparation for today's store opening.
This was the pastry case filled to the brim with homemade treats ready for today's big event. Breads and pastries are all labeled so that you can find exactly the kind of treat that fits your eating requirements.
Directly next to the bakery (and nearly at the front of the store) was a coffee, tea, juice, and smoothie bar.
Any of the foods purchased at Earth Fare can be eaten in this decently sized cafe area. While this obviously isn't a full-service restaurant, you can certainly assemble a meal from the various hot and cold food stations throughout the store and sit here to enjoy your meal.
Earth Fare has committed to showing local artists on the walls in their cafe. Here was a piece by Allison, an eighth grader from a local school.
Having spent nearly an hour with me, I thanked Kristi for her time and made my way back out into the warm, not-quite-sure-if-it-was-going-to-shower evening air. While Corley had originally agreed to give away two $50 gift cards to my awesome readers, I was surprised when Kristi handed me my very own $50 gift card. While I will certainly be returning to give Earth Fare a more thorough shakedown, as a reward for getting all the way to the bottom of a very long post, I am going to sweeten the deal and throw MY gift card into the mix as well. That means you, gentle reader, have a chance to win one of THREE $50 gift cards to Earth Fare.
So here is how the contest will work. Starting at 6:00 AM on Wednesday, May 11th and ending at 5:59:59 AM on Friday, May 13th, if you wish to throw your hat into the ring for one of these awesome gift cards, leave a comment on this blog post stating that you wish to win. If you wish to get in an extra chance at a card, share the link for this blog post on your Facebook, Twitter, blog, or other social media account (you can only earn one extra chance, regardless of how many sites you share the link on) and post that link right in your comment.
When 6:00 AM rolls around on Friday morning, I will make a list of all the names of the commenters as well as how many chances they have earned. Using Random.org, I will select three names from the list and contact those individuals to see if they are still interested in receiving a card. IF YOU LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IN YOUR COMMENT, I will contact you directly. If you provided a link to your Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. and it is easy and obvious to make contact with you, there is no need to leave an email address. If I select a contest winner with no email address or outside link listed, you will have to wait until Sunday morning at 6:00 AM when I will publish a list of all the winners. You will then have one week to contact me to claim your prize. If not, I will select another winner.
While it is always awesome when I am able to give away gift cards to encourage people to visit a new store, I do encourage you to check out Earth Fare for yourself, regardless if you win one or not. They have a hard and fast food philosophy by which they operate, have shown community involvement even before the store officially opened, and are in the business of helping to educate consumers on making smarter choices about what is going into their bodies.
Make sure to come back on Friday and read all about the second part of this Fairlawn Showcase ... and the opportunity to win more gift cards!