Boone Earth Fare will reopen its doors in a few months

Tommy Mozier, Senior Reporter

After store-closing blowout sales cleared Earth Fare’s shelves, “The Healthy Supermarket” will re-fill its aisles and re-open its doors in the coming months, the store’s new CEO confirms. 

An Asheville-based investment group purchased the lease of Boone’s Earth Fare store on March 24, less than two months after the supermarket chain filed for bankruptcy and closed all stores, according to court documents.

Earth Fare’s new CEO, Bethany Turon, said the investment group plans to reopen stores in the next two to three months. Turon was Earth Fare’s senior vice president of human resources until its closure. 

“I felt in my heart, it’s not this company’s time to die,” Turon said. 

Turon said former employees have already reached out to her about returning to work. She said it’s likely that workers could assume their old positions or possibly higher positions.

The investment group, called DJ3 Delaware LLC, purchased five former stores out of bankruptcy proceedings: in Asheville; Athens, Georgia; Roanoke, Virginia; Summerville, South Carolina and Boone’s location on King Street. The group also secured rights to Earth Fare’s intellectual property, which includes the name, IP address, logos, slogans, branding and recipes. 

Grocery store conglomerates like Amazon’s Whole Foods and Winn-Dixie stores purchased many of the remaining locations. Whole Foods outbid DJ3 Delaware for the South Asheville location, according to court documents.

DJ3 Delaware includes contributions from Earth Fare co-founder Randy Talley, who also owns the Green Sage cafes in Asheville; Dennis Hulsing, who owns multiple hotels and health clubs in Kansas and North Carolina; and Earth Fare’s founder, Roger Derrough.

Max Correa
Boone’s Earth Fare, which closed a few months ago, is reopening its doors once again.

Derrough was unavailable for comment.

The Fletcher,-based chain suddenly announced it was closing all 50 stores Feb. 3. The next day, Earth Fare filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and began liquidating assets. The news blindsided employees and managers

Talley began raising money the day after Earth Fare declared bankruptcy. 

“(Turon) and I quickly recognized that we were the two people that could do this,” Talley said. “Which is, we can save this company, and we were right.”

But on Feb. 20, the day bids on the chain’s assets were due in bankruptcy proceedings, Earth Fare’s future was not secured. Talley had not raised enough money. Then Hulsing, a loyal Earth Fare shopper, called Talley around 8 a.m. and asked Talley how he could help save the company. By the 5 p.m. deadline, they had enough capital to place bids on five stores. Hulsing provided the “heavy lifting” to get it done, Talley said. 

“I liken the whole process of saving Earth Fare to chasing ice, it was melting so fast” Talley said. “The bedrock of the company was Asheville, Boone, Roanoke, Athens. That’s what we wanted to save.” 

The new Earth Fare aims to have the best produce in town with an emphasis on organics and buying local, getting back to its roots, Talley said. Turon said the team is looking forward to working with local farmers and financially supporting community partners. 

Turon and Talley recognize the grocery store’s importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Turon said they are creating contingency plans that take the virus into account. 

“We do feel the community needs to eat regardless,” Turon said. “So we would like to provide them the safe and healthy alternative that Earth Fare brings.”

L’Renz Scott, who had worked in Earth Fare’s kitchen, had found work as a server at a barbeque place but was enthusiastic when told of Earth Fare’s plans to re-open.

“Wow, that’s amazing,” Scott said. “That would definitely be something I would be interested in.”