Monday, January 5, 2009

Sunflower (aka Newflower) Farmers Market

A DallasEats Preview!

We here at DallasEats have been very curious about Sunflower Farmers Market, a new chain of health, planet and budget-conscious grocery stores that just arrived in North Texas.  Promising "Serious Food...Silly Prices", Sunflower's down-to-Earth mindset and no-frills esthetic (along with other cost-cutting measures) allow them to pass big savings on to the consumer.  As detailed in the company's Mission Statement, Sunflower offers "Better-than-supermarket quality at better-than-supermarket prices".  Sounds like a plan to us!

Late last week, I ventured north to visit the chain's first Metroplex outpost in Plano, and got a taste of what to expect when their Dallas location opens on Henderson Avenue next month.  With two grown siblings and one Dad in tow, I explored the store from entrance to check-out, snapping pics and taking notes.  Below are our group's impressions, in words and snapshots: 

Picture #1:  First of all, the store is called Newflower, not Sunflower.  A friendly checker told us that this change was necessitated by the fact that a store in Fort Worth has already laid claim to the original name.  A quick internet search turned up a small chain of vitamin stores called Sunflower Shoppe, There was no mention of a legal situation, so it may just be a move to avoid confusion in this part of the state.

Picture #2:  The store is small, but packed full of merchandise.  Along the perimeter are breads, meats and produce, with grocery and bulk items in the center.  Wine & Beer and Health & Beauty cozy up cheek-to-cheek on the right-hand side (as you walk in).

Picture #3:  Bulk snacks are a big player at Newflower.  Free-standing displays held nibbles to satisfy just about any craving - trail mix, assorted pretzels, licorice in several flavors, wasabi peas and more.  In the words of one group member, it was "nosherai heaven".

Picture #4:  Instead of an "International Aisle", more free-standing displays held Asian and Italian ingredients ("Mama Mia" sign visible in rear).

Picture #5:  The frozen seafood section held a wide selection but, frankly, was not very appealing.

Picture #6:  On the other hand, we loved the fill-your-own-bear bulk honey station!

Additional Observations & Comments:

C&S:  "Loved the large selection of Texas wines!  Prices were low, as promised, however I had quality questions about several items. "

Rachel:  "I saw a lot of brands I'd never heard of...but some I've also seen at Whole Foods.  I also saw a lot of Texas gems."

David:  "They're great, but Whole Foods would have an advantage in bakery and meats - not pricewise, but in selection and presentation.  Staff seems like a very happy group!"

Dad:  "I have no problem with the store as a whole, but the meat department leaves something to be desired.  Also, I'd like it if the local products were labeled more clearly, like at Whole Foods."

And now it's your turn, folks:
Has anyone been to Newflower in Plano?
What did you think?


Eddie G said...

Looks a lot like Sprouts. Nice :)

HeatherBakes said...

Thanks for the review- I've been wanting to check that place out ever since I heard about the future Henderson location. So is it pretty comparable to Sprouts?

Shari Johns - As you wish... said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Classy&Sassy said...

You know, I have only been to Sprouts a couple of times, and both of those trips were right after the Plano location opened a few years ago, so I couldn't really say how similar they are. My Dad, however, seemed to think they were a lot alike.

Leigh said...

I just moved to Austin from Colorado, and I've been counting down the days until their location down here opens. I've been a loyal shopper for several years throughout their many locations in Denver and Boulder. I'm sorry to hear the meat in this location was disapointing, as this has been one of my favorite aspects of the Sunflower Markets - good, free-range meats that are affordable and fresh. Maybe they just need some time to get that worked out, or perhaps the addition of a couple of other Texas locations will help. Their produce is great, and I always get my "pantry" items (olive oil, vinegars, etc.) there, as they are so much less expensive than elsewhere. My husband has worked with the Owner/CEO and other upper-management employees on private events, and we have a lot of respect for them, and what they are attempting to do within the cities that they open stores. They are very big into giving back to the communities and also helping to sustain local farmers.

Anonymous said...

Living in Plano it has been nice to have Whole Foods, then Central Market, then Spouts and now Newflower. Must say that I prefer Sprouts for nearly everything from meats/seafood/produce, shop Whole Foods for specialty stuff and their house brands, rarely shop CM and wish it was HEB flat out, but was way disappointed in Newflower. Their prices were high like WF but it's such a small store and selection wasn't great. Don't think they will make much impact and/or draw much business in Plano--competition is great for foodies in this part of the world!

Anonymous said...

My experience at Newflower is positive! I plan my trips there every other Wed to take advantage of their double circular discounts. I completely filled a buggy with produce and frozen items (no meat) for $50 dollars. That would be a hand basket at WF's. Much of it was also organic! On my way back to McKinney I also stop in at Sprouts to pick up their specials but never end up finding the kind of deals that I do at Newflower. I totally recommend this place if you are trying to eat better and not go to the poor house for doing so;)

elizabeth said...

I can't wait to try it out! Is it really opening at the end of the month??

I seriously got hooked on Trader Joe's while living in Boston. I'm having withdrawals and Whole Foods is great, but I forgot how $$!

Webjetter said...

Can't wait to check it out.
Have you people gone to an Asian super-store lately?
I go once a week to Saigon Taipei in Garland for produce and fresh baguettes. The produce dept is better during the summer, when tomatoes never exceed 59 cents, but during the winter the prices run less than 1/2 of CM and WF.
Herbs and exotic produce are very inexpensive, too.

Anonymous said...

I just shopped at the Newflower Farmers Markets... or Sunflower Farmers Markets in Plano. I honestly was not that impressed. It was like Sprouts, but their produce was not near as fresh. Sprouts also had better prices on most the items I purchase. I gotta say... after shopping at Newflower, I'm still a loyal Sprouts gal! :)

Anonymous said...

Produce is fresh and looks nice. Cordial folks knowledgeable about lifecycles and shelf life of the produce. Watch out Whole Foods!

Anonymous said...

Sigh, I am dealing with them right now trying to get the order I placed (3/25/09) for Almond milk filled. They keep saying, "it will be in on...fill in the blank on the day" and when I call it's not in for various reasons. The latest is that only half their truck arrived. Supposedly my month old order will be in on Saturday. But this is the 5th time frame they have given me in the past month. They don't understand my frustration at the situation. They aren't taking it seriously. Oh well, guess they don't really, really want a new customer for life.

Anonymous said...

They act all natural but watch out for their meat and seafood. It's sometimes frozen and sold as fresh.
Their holiday meals are just instant stuffing and ocean spray sold at a premium.

Anonymous said...

Very nice thanks for the posting................

The only Satellite Television Delivers the Best Value in Entertainment

Moss Gathers said...

I don't think any of these places can offer what a farmer's market can offer. WF has organic from China which is not under our jurisdiction to determine whether it's organic or sewage sludge. Sprouts has very little organic and nothing local. Sigh! We are not doing a good job in educating the public about real food. You can buy an illusion of healthy food or you can buy the real deal. If saving a buck or two is your thing, then Walmart and coupon clipping is your answer. If you are serious about food security and real food without the marketing gimics, hit your local farmer's market.