New market ‘Sprouts’ in South Tempe

Shoppers line up for the newest Sprouts location in Tempe. (Wrangler News photo)

Given the bare bones staffing of our little enterprise, we’re not always able to be on hand for the opening of businesses in our two adjoining communities.

Recent exceptions, however, have been the arrival of Tempe Public Market Café a couple of months ago and, just the other day, the opening of the new Sprouts market at Rural and Elliot roads.

Although we’ve both paid previous visits to other of the store’s locations, we weren’t prepared for the fervor—and the abundance of smiles—that characterized this newest high-spot entry into the neighborhood’s shopping options.

In a few simple words, it was pure delight—plus a promise that the selection of this site, behind what used to be John Henry’s and is now occupied by Passage to India, a focal point of international cuisine—is sure to be a hit.

Here are our first-day impressions of the latest addition to the nationwide chain of 280 stores:

Don — I arrived just before the scheduled 7 a.m. opening to find about 100 people already lined up. A young videographer (who, coincidentally, grew up in our area before attending UofA) and the chain’s publicist (herself, as a onetime ASU staffer, also was acquainted with Wrangler News) were front and center.

The crowd of waiting shoppers— no doubt including a few curiosity seekers—seemed eager and happy to be on hand for this day, which many saw as a thoughtful site selection and one more star in the list of developer Michael Pollack’s shopping center revitalization efforts.

Before Joyce and I took our little whirlwind tour, about an hour after the initial 7 a.m. rush, I had made up my mind that this newest shopping alternative likely wouldn’t interrupt my many years as a shopper at the nearby Safeway, just a mile to the east.

However, I’ll have to admit that the considerable planning that obviously went into this store, coupled with the variety, the welcoming attitude of every member of the staff, the prices—some lower (small avocados, three for a dollar, one of many examples)—and the overall bright and cheery layout caused me to wonder if I might want to make Sprouts a new shopping destination after all.

Joyce — Excitement was in the air as residents of South Tempe and West Chandler perused the brightly lit aisles of a brand new Sprouts Farmers Market. The healthy-living focus of the store is reason for jubilation: More than a third of Americans are obese and/or pre-diabetic. After having five children, I’ve had to wage my own war on the waistline over the years, so I’m psyched to see a store like Sprouts springing up so close to our Wrangler News office.

The expansive produce department offered up heaps of pineapples, lush navel oranges, avocados and high-end zucchini among other farmers’ yields at bargain prices. Nearby, a full-to-the rim barrel of steel-cut oats and unsalted nuts beckoned. From gluten-free to organic items, shelves are packed with foods the health-conscious were snapping up as a woman’s voice echoed over the loudspeaker announcing opening-day prizes. A young mom with an infant strapped to her chest made her way through displays of baby potatoes and bell peppers. (Way to go, Mom! Teach ‘em to eat right while they’re young!) I can easily envision my adult children— they’re all into fitness—shopping here.

Patrick Cassidy, a broker with Michael Pollack Investments, stood outside the front doors of the new enterprise, greeting early-morning shoppers. Pollack, known for buying up properties and undertaking extensive redevelopment, owns the strip mall at Elliot and McClintock Road where the health-food-focused store flung open its doors on a cool spring morning. The first 200 customers at the Phoenix-based grocery chain were offered special deals.

Freshly baked muffins—bran, cranberry orange and assorted other flavors—still stood in baking trays alongside tantalizing brioche and focaccia as if to tell shoppers, “Yes, eat a more plant-based diet, but enjoy a delicious treat—in moderation, of course.”

As shoppers made their way out of the store, they no doubt noticed B.R. Fitness, a gym located in the same plaza. Two enormous banners hanging from the health-club’s eaves were hard to miss. With Sprouts now taking root just steps away, our neighborhood moves toward even more healthy (and delicious) living.


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