BOONE — Earth Fare, the specialty natural and organic grocery store and full-service supermarket, announced Monday, Feb. 3, that it will start the process of liquidation of all of its stores, including its Boone location, effective immediately.
According to Earth Fare spokesperson Jennifer E. Mercer, stores will be open depending on how long it takes to sell off all its merchandise, but she estimated that the closures will take place around the end of February.
The company cited challenges in the retail industry that “impeded the company’s progress as well as its ability to refinance its debt.”
“As a result, Earth Fare is not in a financial position to continue to operate on a go-forward basis,” Earth Fare said in a statement. “As such, we have made the difficult, but necessary decision to commence inventory liquidation sales while we continue to engage in a process to find potential suitors for our stores.”
According to Boone Earth Fare Bakery Manager Nathaniel Steelman, the store’s employees found out Monday morning that they “would no longer have jobs by the end of the month.”
Around 50 people work in an average Earth Fare store, Mercer said. There are around 50 Earth Fare locations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Virginia, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, with the corporate office located in Asheville. Most Earth Fare locations are in North Carolina and Florida.
Earth Fare said that all employees were notified of the impending closures and that the company will sell assets, including store fixtures, in the coming days and weeks.
The management office at the Earth Fare location at 178 W. King St. directed questions to Mercer.
The land that contains Earth Fare was purchased by a group led by U.S. Buildings owner Tommy Sofield in late 2019. According to the Watauga County Register of Deeds, Sofield Children’s Limited Partnership purchased two adjacent tracts of land that includes the building that houses Earth Fare in October and November 2019 for a combined $5.3 million.
Sofield, who did not respond to a request for comment as of press time, previously said he was going to put a new facade on the building and do an extensive remodel.