Region's first Earth Fare grocery store set for Seminole

Boutique grocery chain Earth Fare is coming to Pinellas in fall.

Construction for the redeveloped Seminole Mall is underway at Park Boulevard and 113 Street, where one boutique grocer has confirmed it will debut to the Bay area for the first time.

Scheduled to open in fall, Earth Fare, a full-service, health-and-wellness-driven supermarket chain planned for 7774 113th St. N., will stock the same types of products as conventional grocery stores. Shoppers will find produce, baked goods, beauty items, meat, seafood and dairy as easily as they would anywhere else. But at Earth Fare, the selection is made up of organic and natural products.

The chain — founded in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1975 — aims to “push natural, organic foods to the forefront of the American culinary experience,” according to spokesperson Laurie Aker. Now, Aker told CL Monday afternoon, Earth Fare has the highest food-quality standards in the industry, which come from its philosophy of being “free form.”

Translation: Foods sold here forgo added hormones, high-fructose corn syrup, antibiotics, bleached or bromated flour, artificial preservatives, sweeteners, fats, trans fats, colors or flavors. There’s even a company-wide “Boot List,” a large collection of all the ingredients that Earth Fare shoppers won’t find in the brands and products stocked on its shelves. Essentially, the chain reads the labels so you don’t have to.

And if customers do happen upon an item that includes one of the banned ingredients?

They’ll score a $50 gift card, plus the satisfaction of knowing they helped boot (get it?) the product from the store.

“That’s what truly sets us apart,” Aker said.

Aside from featuring various food counters and a bakery, the Seminole Earth Fare will showcase sushi, pizza, a dry supplements and vitamins section, an array of wine, beer and artisan cheese, and products for gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian shoppers.

The store will also house the company’s third Heirloom Café. The café is set to serve certified-organic smoothies, juices and coffee, and an outdoor patio will accompany its indoor seating area.

Selling its own private label goods alongside brands like Del Monte and StarKist, Earth Fare also aims to support area vendors and small farms. After testing some Tampa Bay products, the store will stock and identify them with special tags. A vendor fair, where 50 local companies will be interviewed and vetted before their wares hit shelves, is planned for early August.

This latest location, the chain’s fourth Florida operation after Gainesville, Tallahassee and Jacksonville, marks the 38th store for Earth Fare. According to Aker, Seminole and her company are a “perfect match."

Earth Fare will release specifics on the store’s opening date and its size in the coming weeks. Aker encourages shoppers to check the chain's website for updates.

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