Lakewood Ranch Herald

Good Earth foods headed for LWR

LAKEWOOD RANCH — A prime anchor spot on Lakewood Ranch Main Street, which has sat empty since Morton’s Deli closed up shop more than a year ago, is slated to become a Good Earth Natural Food Store.

Bradenton-based Good Earth opened its first store in 1978.

Mark Egan, corporate president, said the Lakewood Ranch store will be the company’s fourth when it opens in August.

Freshness and customer service are hallmarks of Good Earth.

“We greet everyone who comes in the door, like they were entering a house,” Egan said.

“We have produce right up front. We’ll bombard you with freshness. As you continue through the store, we have an organic produce section, maybe the largest in Manatee County,” Egan said.

The store offers bulk foods, where customers can open a lid and scoop out the amount they need.

Natural food groceries, wheat-free and gluten-free items are offered, along with a freezer and refrigerated section. There is also a small book section on natural foods.

Good Earth also is known for its top-quality vitamin companies and has its own line of products as well.

“We were first approached by the folks at Lakewood Ranch about five months ago,” Egan said. The contract to take over the former Morton’s site was inked Thursday afternoon.

The news was greeted enthusiastically up and down Main Street.

“That’s fantastic news. We’ve been waiting a long time,” said Rebecca Kurath, a stylist and marketing executive with Clothes Encounter.

Audra McMurray of Natural Discoveries said, “We’re thrilled, our prayers are answered.”

Vanessa Baugh of Vanessa Fine Jewelry was equally enthusiastic.

“Oh, gosh, I’m excited. I’ll be their first customer,” Baugh said. “They carry a lot of herbal supplements that are hard to find elsewhere.”

Leah Blair, spokeswoman for Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, said after the contract signing, “We’re really happy going forward.”

The news was especially sweet after Ada’s Natural & Organic Foods Supermarket was announced in September as a tenant for the Morton’s space. But Ada’s never made the move, and SMR continued the search for a suitable tenant.

Good Earth is expected to move some of its existing staff to the new store, given their familiarity with the product and company philosophy. But there is likely to be some new hires as well and the new store could open with a staff of about one dozen.

Good Earth was founded by George and Violet Kendall in 1978. In 1983, Egan opened a store called Health and Harvest House on Cortez Road. The businesses merged in the early 1990s.

Other principals of the store include Dominic Bucci, corporate vice president, and Donna Braunstein, secretary/treasurer, according to the company Web site,

Good Earth Natural Food Stores are located at 3110 53rd Ave. E., 6717 Manatee Ave. W., and 5153 14th St. W.

Followers of the stores look forward to “Super Tuesdays,” the first Tuesday of the month, when Good Earth discounts everything in the store 20 percent for the day.

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