SNELLVILLE — The sky was still dark as customers lined up outside the new Sprouts Farmers Market grocery store at The Shoppes at Webb Ginn Wednesday morning. Many had coffee mugs in hand as they waited for the store to finally open the doors of its first Atlanta-area location.
As they waited, customers were provided with free coffee and muffins as well as entertainment in the form of live guitar music. Stephanie and Patti Solomon of Lawrenceville were the first customers in line for the grand opening and were very excited, though they had never been to a Sprouts store before.
“We heard it was compared to Trader Joe’s, so we were very excited that we have something comparable so close to home,” Stephanie Solomon said.
With Wednesday’s opening, Sprouts has more than 175 stores in 10 states. According to company president and CEO Doug Sanders, three more will be added to the chain over the next three months, all in the Atlanta area.
“We had the Atlanta market under review for a year and a half now, maybe even close to two years, and we felt like the Snellville area was great,” Sanders said. “There was definitely a lack of affordable, natural foods in this area, so we felt like it was a good opportunity.”
Sanders said the next three stores will open in Dunwoody, Norcross and Johns Creek, with more coming next year, according to Sanders.
“We’re looking at the greater Atlanta area having 12 to 15 stores over the next few years,” he added.
After a ribbon cutting ceremony, the waiting customers flooded into the store, taking shopping carts and filling them with fresh produce, meats, and baked goods as well as other products, such as wine, spices and cosmetics. The store was quickly filled with a busy hum as shoppers roamed and staff answered any questions they might have.
“This is an exciting place,” said Shilan Karia of Snellville. “It seems like Black Friday in here.”
Customers from the surrounding, many from Lawrenceville and Snellville, were all pleased to have a store selling healthy, natural foods so close to home. Katie Bassett and her mother, Elizabeth, arrived at 5:30 a.m. to do their shopping.
“I really like grocery stores like Fresh Market,” Katie Bassett said, “so I wanted to see what it was like.”
“So far we like it,” Elizabeth added. “We’ll definitely be back.”
Grayson resident Jennifer Gordon, who was recruited by her mother to attend the Snellville store’s grand opening, was also more than satisfied with the store itself, along with its staff.
“It’s expertly laid out; it’s clean, it’s bright,” Gordon said. “The staff is very well-informed. I just met Leilani, she’s a sweet girl, [and] Neil over in the cosmetics area was able to give me all the answers to everything, whether it was store-related or cosmetics-related. That, I appreciate as a customer.”
Sprouts also gave a $1,000 donation to the J.M. Tull-Gwinnett Family YMCA, as well as a $500 donation to the Community Garden.
The store’s first 200 shoppers in line at the grand opening Wednesday morning received a coupon for 20 percent off their initial total purchase, and every 15th shopper received a coupon booklet. All shoppers received a free reusable grocery bag with their purchases.
The grand opening celebration will continue through June 28. This Saturday the first 100 customers will receive a coupon booklet for five free sandwiches and 20 golden tickets worth $20 off the finder’s purchase will be hidden on items throughout the store. On Sunday, every 15th customer will receive a $5 coupon for a purchase of $15 or more, and on June 28, the first 100 customers will receive a coupon booklet for five free sandwiches.
Sprouts Farmers Market is located at 1250 Scenic Highway in Snellville, next to DSW at The Shoppes at Webb Ginn. The store is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, visit www.sprouts.com.