Talking easy, healthy shopping with Carlie Fair, Community Relations Manager at Earth Fare
1. What makes Earth Fare different from other grocery stores?
We are a grocery store for people who love to eat good food and want to trust in the quality of the food they’re consuming. We take healthy eating seriously. We put our Food Rules online and enforce it with everything we put on our shelves. Everything we sell has to adhere to the following requirements:
* NO high fructose corn syrup
* NO artificial fats or artificial trans fats
* NO artificial colors
* NO artificial preservatives
* NO artificial sweeteners
* NO antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones in our fresh meat or dairy
* NO bleached or bromated flour
Our Food Rules apply to every single item in the store - whether it’s canned, packaged or fresh. We take the work out of reading the labels. We challenge our customers to try and find something in our stores that contains an item that doesn’t fit our Food Rules, and if they do, we’ll give them a $50 gift card. It’s not often we’ve had to give a customer a gift card.
2. So, what sort of foods DO you sell?
We are a full-service grocery store, with some added extras. We have a lot of seasonal produce, along with fresh meats, seafood, dairy, cheeses, bulk, a full grocery department, prepared foods section, beer, wine, as well as a complete wellness department with body care and supplements.
One of our guiding principles is to source food locally wherever we can. We have a special logo representing our "100 mile commitment” to draw attention to goods that come from local producers. We’re new to Jacksonville but we’re already ramping up our search for the best local providers around. Some of the local items you’ll see on day one include candies from Sweet Pete’s, local craft beer from Intuition and Bold City, popsicles from Hyppo, cheeses from Sweet Grass Dairy and a lot more.
3. Can you tell us about some of your programs to make healthy eating more affordable?
We know that people want to eat healthy but they have to live within a budget too. We have a whole line of store brand products that feature great price points, and about 75% of our private label is organic. Our Wall of Value is an in-store display that's dedicated to weekly specials. We have our “Real Low” list of hundreds of everyday items that are attractively priced. You can see our Real Low list online, as well as highlighted items through the Earth Fare App for iPhone or Android phones. We also make use of bulk options in a number of areas. For example, we have a whole range of herbs available for purchase in whatever quantity you need. We even arrange the herbs alphabetically so they’re easy to find. This is a great option if you have a recipe and only need to pick up a little bit of a few herbs - just buy what you need and avoid spoilage or waste.
Another really great way to save is through daily specials in our prepared foods area. Every Tuesday is Takeout Tuesday at Earth Fare and we feature a take home meal for $5 that is served from 4:30 – 7:30. Sushi is on special Wednesdays, with several sushi varieties made in-house for only $5 each. Every Thursday from 4-8pm our Family Dinner Night allows up to 6 kids to eat free when an adult buys a meal from our prepared foods department valued at $5 or more. Earth Fare has great meal options that are kid-approved - pizza, grilled cheese, sandwiches, chicken nuggets and a variety of wheat-free and vegetarian options. Each kid’s meal is served up with grapes, carrots and a bottled water. On Sunday we have Burgers for Bucks from 12 - 3pm where we feature hamburgers for $3, hot dogs for $2, and sides for $1.50. Customers can find out more about our weekly specials and get emailed offers by signing up at Earthfare.com/JAX.
All these options are in addition to online coupons, in-store specials, and programs like our Tomato Bank, that make saving fun.
4. What’s Tomato Bank?
It’s a really fun, points based program that gives you points and prizes for shopping at Earth Fare. First you need to sign up for Tomato Bank - and it’s free, fast and easy. You’ll get a 100 point ‘sign-on’ bonus when you sign up! Next, start collecting points when you shop. For example, when you buy a burger during our Sunday Burgers for Bucks event, you get 10 points, along with a great deal on a great burger. Each point earned is added to a total, and you can redeem at 100 points increments, saving you $1 off a purchase at Earth Fare.
5. Can you tell us a little more about your target audience?
Most of our customers are regular people who want to feel good about what they feed themselves and their family. They don’t want to hunch over everything they buy reading ingredient labels and wondering where the food came from. People shop at Earth Fare because they trust us to hold ourselves and our suppliers to the highest standards of health and respect for the food we sell. All our meat is certified humane by third party audit organizations. We offer pastured, grass fed beef and eggs from free roaming chickens, for example. We think this approach is not only better for the animals but produces healthier and better tasting meats and eggs.
We also have many customers who shop with us because they have very specific dietary requirements. For example, many people are eating gluten free today. We carry a wide range of gluten free products that are prominently displayed for easy identification. We even have gluten free beer! Many people don’t want harsh additives in their soaps or make ups and we have natural options for them. We also carry a wide range of raw products. We try to make it as easy as possible for people to eat the way they want to.
6. Can you tell us about your wellness section?
It’s an area of the store dedicated to wellness products such as vitamins, supplements, soaps, make-up, yoga equipment, sun screen, protein powders, fish oils and so on. Earth Fare has its own fabulous line of store brand supplements that come from a 4th generation family business that’s been bottling since 1925. The facility used to bottle our private label is certified organic. All of our wellness items adhere to our Food Rules - whether the items are meant to be consumed or used like a soap or shampoo.
Our wellness section is staffed by wellness experts. They’re not doctors, but they’re very experienced in a holistic approach to wellness. Often, people will come in with questions about a detox program or a particular supplement and our wellness experts can help to answer their questions.
7. Can you tell us about your cheeses?
We’re constantly working with farmers and our local communities to find great cheeses that fit our Food Rules. This means looking to source more grass fed cheeses and working with local farmers such as Sweet Grass Dairy and American farmers in places like Wisconsin and Utah. We’ve been building our relationships with farms for a long time and farmers are now familiar with what to expect from Earth Fare. We carry many varieties of cheese from New Zealand and Irish cheeses from Kerrygold, which have a really nice, buttery smoothness.
An interesting example of what it takes to find the right supplier is with our charcuterie. Most charcuterie is made with nitrates or nitrites and it took us a long time to find a supplier who was willing to try a more natural approach that eliminated those things. We’ve been working with the Creminelli family who produce a great range of sausages and salamis that fit with our Food Rules. They produce a delicious Italian style of charcuterie but with American pork and beef.
8. Can you tell us more about your prepared foods?
We’ve got a wide range of options to pick up in-store and we have a cafe area where you can stay to enjoy something to eat. We have a hot bar and a salad bar so you can find something new and fresh every day. For lunch or dinner we offer ready-to-go sushi, sandwiches, salads and soups filled with unique flavor. We also make pizza in-house with organic items. You can order by the slice - and it’s a gigantic slice - or you can go take-and-bake style, where we put the pizza together for you and you cook it at home. We’ll have a full range of deli items too – deli meats, salads, prepared meats and proteins as well as veggies! At our bakery we bake several different breads each day along with made-from-scratch specials.
9. Can you tell us about your sampling?
Sure! We have an active program of in-store and out-of-store sampling so that people can try some of the unique things we carry. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday we have active demos where we have someone cook, talk about different recipes, and sample out different items. But we also have a very special program that lets people sample just about anything in the store if they want. Say you can’t decide between two options or you don’t know if something for a special meal is going to taste good or not. Just ask an Earth Fare team member and we’ll help you create your own sampling opportunity. We want our customers to try new things and to be happy about what they purchase from Earth Fare and our approach to sampling is just one way we try to achieve these goals.
10. What does a Community Relations Manager do?
Everyone at Earth Fare works on a team. Well, the people of Jacksonville are my team. I work with the people of Jacksonville to do things that promote the values of Earth Fare in the community. I work with a broad spectrum of local organizations who are putting on events such as races or even the Mega Pet Adoption.