Steamboat Springs — When Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage opens its new store in Steamboat Springs in September, it hopes to add local growers to its sources for organic produce.
“We’ll be a full-service grocery offering a large, large number of supplements and we’ll carry nothing but USDA-certified organic produce,” company spokeswoman Nancy Flynn said. “If there are producers of organic produce in the area, we absolutely want to take a look.”
Plans are for Vitamin Cottage to occupy about 12,000 square feet in the former David Chase Furniture and Rugs store at 355 Lincoln Ave. The property sold for
$3 million Wednesday to a Montrose developer, VC I Steamboat LLC, and the city gave its approval for a change-of-use permit for the location. The real estate last sold for $2.9 million in 2006.
The Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Web page has been updated to include Steamboat Springs on its list of locations with the local store expected to open as soon as Sept. 10.
Flynn said she has yet to see plans for the new store and does not know if it will include either the learning center or community room that often are included in Vitamin Cottage stores.
However, the Steamboat building, which has a large mezzanine, is larger than the average Vitamin Cottage of 9,500 square feet. The company’s stores range from 5,000 to 14,500 square feet.
Flynn said emphasizing healthy lifestyles and diets for its customers “is the backbone” of the company.
Although Vitamin Cottage previously has worked with VC I Steamboat’s sibling in Montrose — Leadership Circle LLC and its principal Matt Miles — Flynn said she did not know whether Miles would own the store and lease it back to her company.
Steamboat Realtor Nick Metzler, of Colorado Group Realty, said he and colleague Randall Hannaway co-listed the building, and he worked with the buyer. He said Leadership Circle was flexible about where it was located within Steamboat, but the opportunity to acquire a building in the downtown business district that originally was built as a grocery store captured their attention.
“They weren’t afraid to go west or east of town,” Metzler said, “but I think, with a niche grocer, they felt a very good fit with that building. I think that once they got their eyes on a building in the heart of downtown, they really liked that.”
Metzler said he thinks the presence of a full-service grocer in the downtown area would support the growing community goal of creating a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.
Healthy Solutions, a longtime locally owned natural grocer adjacent to the main David Chase Furniture and Rugs store, announced last week its plans to shutter its doors in early July.
The news that Vitamin Cottage is coming to Steamboat is coincidental to the company’s plans announced this week to take it public and sell shares in the company with an offering on the New York Stock Exchange.
To date, the regional chain of 54 Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage has been privately held by descendants of the founders, a Golden couple. The stock offering is being undertaken to pay down existing debt and raise capital to expand by as many as 1,100 stores.
Flynn said those plans are in a waiting period with the Securities and Exchange Commission and no one at her company will comment on them.
However, documents on file with the SEC reflect that Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage has prospered through the national economic crisis.
The company reported net sales of $159.7 million in the first three months of this year, up 26 percent from the same period in 2011. For the fiscal year that ended in September 2011, sales were $264.5 million, a 16 percent increase from the previous 12 months.
The company expects to have opened 10 new stores by the end of this fiscal year. As recently as 2008, it had just 27 stores.
As reported by Tom Ross of the Steamboat Today on June 21, 2012