In a statement, the company’s president and CEO, Rick Anicetti, said: “The decision to close these stores is a difficult but necessary step with the end goal of producing a stronger, more agile company. This shift also allows us to focus our energy and resources on the growth of our remaining stores, as well as new stores we have planned in the future. We continue to pursue our strategy of offering exceptional products, engaging shopping experiences, and great customer service across all our stores.”
Fresh Market said all eligible employees at the affected stores have been offered the option to apply for a position at another store location and will receive a separation package.
“We are committed to working closely with our impacted team members throughout this process,” said Anicetti in the statement. “We will have Human Resources and Store Operations team members in each of these stores throughout the week to assist employees with any transition needs they may have.”
The 24,000-square-foot Overland Park store, at 6261 W. 135th St., was the first tenant to open in Prairiefire in early September 2013. It’s also the only location in the Kansas City area.
Fresh Market would not offer any details on the other store closings or on store liquidations. The stores are expected to close by May 18.
However, Prairiefire developer Fred Merrill said the Overland Park store shut down after a staff meeting Tuesday afternoon and began a liquidation sale Wednesday. He said Fresh Market has a long-term lease in Prairiefire and will honor its rental commitment.
“We want to find a replacement tenant as soon as possible, even though they are paying rent, and we will be looking at specialty grocers and other tenants that would be a nice addition to Prairiefire,” Merrill said.
Fresh Market stores are designed to give customers a “European market” experience with soft lighting, antiques, wood floors and wood display counters, including bookcases stocked with snack chips. Green-and-white striped canopies hang over the meat and bakery departments, and classical music plays overhead.
A deli counter holds center court. There’s also a floral department, a soup and salad bar, an olive bar, and a bulk candy aisle selling everything from buttered popcorn Jelly Belly candies to chocolate-covered cherries. The bakery produces 30 different breads daily and 14 different pies.
The Fresh Market opened its first store in 1982.
In late April, the company said it had dropped its plan to open a store already under construction in the Northland.