Today is a special day in Fargo because our very first natural grocery store has opened its doors! (To be fair, we do have three small-scale markets with natural items, but this is our first big operation.) Today marks the grand opening of Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage in Fargo — the first in our state, housed in the former Office Depot building on 45th and 13th.
I know, most of my readers are probably all like, “What’s the BFD? Just go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s!” You see, friends, Fargo has neither. I have heard that Whole Foods has per capita requirements in all locations where they open stores, and Fargo is a bit shy of those (which is kind of a crock because we have tons of rural towns nearby that travel in for shopping).
The closest we have to natural and organic shopping are bulk items at Costco, the small but still growing natural selection at Target, those three small natural markets, plus the Internet and farmer’s markets (but those are only open for about three months out of the year anyway).
The point is, there really was nowhere we could go to find everything on our list. I would often have to split my shopping list up between all of the aforementioned locations, and that’s a drag. This store is really kind of a big deal, and it makes me so happy to see that Natural Grocers believes in our market and is offering a one-stop shop for all my crunchy needs.
I was lucky enough to have been invited to a sneak peek event and soft opening this past weekend, and I was part of a small group treated to a talk, complete with complimentary treats, by the store’s corporate and local staff and first dibs on shopping at the new store.
We were fed totally delicious chicken curry lettuce wraps (get the recipe HERE), yogurt berry parfaits and green tea lemonade. Mmm.
I learned about the stores’ history, values and offerings, and I can honestly say I am really impressed. Far more than I actually expected to be.
Here are a few things I just love about this store:
- Each store has a nutritional health coach that customers can meet with for totally FREE to learn more about natural living and eating.
- Every single item sold in the store is free of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives. This means I don’t have to worry about label reading and can trust that everything is safe.
- ALL produce sold is organic. What had never occurred to me before is that at other stores where both organic and “regular” produce is sold, there is a high likelihood of them coming into contact and cross-contamination, which means the organic produce is not really organic anymore. Here, I can be confident that it really is.
- All of the meat sold is naturally raised, with no hormones, antibiotics or byproducts in the animals’ feed. Just another way I can tell they really care about high quality in everything they sell.
- They offer frequent and FREE cooking demos and classes, and for every four you attend, you get a free $10 gift card to the store.
- They also support many sustainable initiatives, such as being totally bagless, and following green building practices when they can (in our case, this meant moving into an existing building instead of tearing it down and building from scratch).
- They are passionate, informed, and most importantly to me, friendly folks dedicated to natural living. I felt totally loved and welcomed in the store.
- They have a really vast selection of products, from regular food and grocery, including fresh produce, meats and dairy, shelf-stable cupboard items, to vitamins and supplements, pet products and beauty and personal care items.
The store also claims that they are the low price leader in the industry, and I hear that often, so I always compare prices before believing that. As I was roaming the aisles during this event, I snapped photos of random items that I knew other places sold so I could see if their statement holds up.
Here’s what I found. A few price comparisons on randomly selected items:
- Organix cat food: $1.59 for 6 oz at Natural Grocers; $1.59 for 3 oz at PetSmart (NG wins big!)
- Evol burritos: $1.99 at both Target and Natural Grocers
- Giovanni 2chic shampoo: $7.43 at Natural Grocers; $6.42 at Swanson
- Blue Diamond Cheddar Cheese Nut Thins: $2.99 at Natural Grocers; $3.06 at Swanson
- Organic ground beef: $7.99/lb at Natural Grocers; $20 for a 3-pack at Costco (Costco wins on this one)
- Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat tea: $4.39 at Natural Grocers; $3.79 at Swanson
- Health Valley cereal bars: $4.89 at Natural Grocers; $4.89 at Target; $4.79 at Swanson
- Pacific Natural Foods Organic Free-Range Chicken Broth: $4.19 at Natural Grocers; $4.44 at Swanson
- Go Raw Simple Flax Snax: $4.15 at Natural Grocers; $4.69 at Swanson
- Orgain Nutritional Shake: $11.55 at Natural Grocers; $13.29 at Swanson
- NOW Foods Liquid Multi Gels 180 ct: $36.09 at Natural Grocers; $29.69 at Swanson
- Nature’s Way Echinacea Goldenseal, 180 ct: $20.65 at Natural Grocers; $14.54 at Swanson
- Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes: $6.59 at Natural Grocers; $3.59 at Swanson; $2.99 at Target
- Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dish Liquid: $3.49 at Natural Grocers; $3.59 at Swanson; $2.99 at Target
- Wellness cat food cans 5.5 oz: $2.15 at Natural Grocers; $2.09 at PetSmart
- Organic red raspberries: $2.99
- Green kale bunch: $1.50
Based on my “research,” Natural Grocers definitely wins the price battle on some items, but not all, and most were awfully close. I wouldn’t call them the leader, but I will say that their prices are good, and that’s good enough.
Here’s what I got in my first store haul. I went small to begin with, but I definitely look forward to going back and loading up on more. They’ve got me as a new customer for sure.
Those caramel squares were spectacular, and that bunch of kale made yummy kale chips when I got home
This post is not sponsored, but I did receive a gift card for attending the store’s sneak peek opening event. I was not obligated to write anything, but wanted to anyway because it was too sweet not to.