Well before the 7 a.m. grand opening, the parking lot was packed at the Depot Marketplace, an unusual sight except for special events like parades and holidays.
Prescott Mayor Harry Oberg told the Quad Cities Business News, “Large crowds and jammed parking lots are a welcome sight for merchants and businesses in this central shopping area. It’s great to have an upscale supermarket like Sprouts, which now can serve the many residents who are relocating into permanent homes in downtown Prescott.”
City officials, Prescott Chamber of Commerce representatives and a diverse public welcomed dozens of Sprouts state, regional and local staff. They celebrated the grand opening with a ribbon cutting on March 15.
“What we now have is a really important and comprehensive shopping area all within walking distance of much of downtown,” said Mayor Oberg.
Noting that Prescott, like many municipalities, is changing in its residential patterns now that more Millennials are choosing to live near the center of town, Oberg said, “I think that people are discovering they don’t want to drive as much. By residing downtown, they can walk, conveniently, to almost anything they want – restaurants, entertainment, boutiques and gift shops, top quality merchandise in locally run stores; and now, an excellent full service grocery store with very competitive products at good prices.”
Store hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily.
But the grocery store is not the only business to benefit from the significantly increased crowds following opening day.
Representatives from the nearby Staples and Walgreen’s commented that walk-in traffic and sales have gone up substantially since Sprouts opened.
Sprouts Brings Jobs, Benefits
The decision to open the Sprouts Farmers Market in Prescott took months of deliberation and market analysis, according to two regional marketing managers, Dana From and Ryann Habnel.
“For management to invest millions of dollars in remodeling an older facility into a modern 30,000-square-foot contemporary market was a big decision,” they said. “Beyond the capital investment is the creation of around 130 new jobs – part-time and full-time – in the area. That’s a good payroll in any community. We take great pride in providing really thorough training to all our employees.”
They said job interviewers spent hours in recruiting and identifying employees who they believed would serve public rapidly and efficiently.
From, with 10 years of experience on the central management team in Phoenix, said, “Our foremost purpose at our store will be to provide a complete shopping experience, with emphasis upon fresh meat and seafood and approximately 205 natural and organic produce items. But beyond that, we think we have one of the largest vitamin and health food departments of any store around – more than 8,000 items.”
The managers describe how the shopping “paths” at Sprouts are different from other grocery stores.
“One of the first things you’ll notice is that we don’t have high, long aisles in parallel rows up and down the store,” said Habnel. “In fact, a husband can be clear across the store and look over and find his wife or kids. Sight lines are for the benefit of customers, and not stacks of food. Our display tables and racks are colorful and clearly marked for easy identification.”
One of the first customers to shop at Sprouts was longtime Prescott resident Patricia Unkenholz. “I really like the wide aisles and tables where I can see everything without stretching up or stooping over. I’m going to enjoy shopping here.”
“I’m impressed,” said Chad Roberts of Prescott, while shopping for fresh produce.
Commitment to Donating Food
As part of its commitment to helping reduce hunger and giving back to the community, the Sprouts store will donate unsold and edible groceries to St. Mary’s Food Bank through the grocer’s Food Rescue Program. “That’s part of our ‘zero waste” pledge to help close the loop on food waste. Food not fit for donation will be provided to local cattle farms and composting facilities,” said Kalia Pang, senior public relations specialist for Sprouts headquarters.
That policy is consistent with the one followed by the more than 250 stores operating in 14 states, mainly in the South and Southwest. That practice has been in place since the first store was founded in 2002 in Chandler.
Sprouts plans to partner with community organizations in three projects: creating school-based health nutrition programs and launching schools gardens; working with at-risk populations and pregnant women by giving them access to important vitamins and minerals; and providing resources for children and adults affected by autism.
The new Prescott Sprouts Famers Market is located at 174 E. Sheldon St. QCBN
By Ray Newton, QCBN
Photo by Ray Newton