Downers Grove, Illinois-based Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, a full-service specialty retailer focused on value-priced fresh, healthy and organic offerings, once again has posted double-digit dollar growth of 19.8 percent, according to SPINS data, outpacing almost all other retailers in the natural space.
“We put our shoppers first,” said Chris Sherrell, president and CEO of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. “We strive to connect with our shoppers in meaningful ways and be their go-to resource to jumpstart or help them continue their health journeys. It’s that philosophy that has allowed us to post strong growth in both store count and sales this year. We will continue to hire local residents, support local causes and find new ways to connect with community.
“We’re also very quick to address our customers’ needs and determine how to best serve them. In the last 12 months, we’ve successfully launched 10 new stores, introduced online ordering and home delivery across all 75 of our stores and expanded our private label offerings by 33 percent—all by being local in the way we manage and promote our shopping experience,” said Sherrell.
Expanding across the Midwest
While many others closed their doors in 2018, Fresh Thyme opened new stores in Minnesota, Ohio, Missouri, Indiana and Pittsburgh, bringing its store count to 75 locations throughout the Midwest.
Expansion continues to be a priority in 2019, with four new grand openings currently scheduled. There will also be a strong emphasis and focus on continuing to develop and strengthen Fresh Thyme’s relationship with customers across many touch points, including in-store and digital experiences. The company will look to stock even more hyper-local products on shelves and provide technology that makes shopping at Fresh Thyme a more seamless, convenient experience.
Fresh Thyme’s private label offering continues to strengthen and grow. In 2018 alone, 455 new products were added for a total of 1,850 private label products available in-store. The private label line has been lauded for being ahead of the trends and offering Fresh Thyme shoppers high-quality items at a great value. Fresh Thyme’s director of private brand development was awarded the Innovation Award as part of the Top Women in Store Brands Awards.
On the horizon are new sweet and savory items, as well as a twist on protein-rich, easy-to-prepare meals.
On the digital side, in 2018 Fresh Thyme launched its partnership with Instacart for home delivery of groceries. And in early January, Fresh Thyme debuted a new website with a new look and content, including better-for-you recipes and dietitian tips.
Commitment to community
Giving back to the community is core to the Fresh Thyme brand. As part of each new location’s grand opening, Fresh Thyme donates to select local causes as a demonstration of its dedication to serve the community. In 2018, Fresh Thyme donated more than $45,000 to local causes via grand openings and thousands of dollars to support additional causes and organizations including youth sports teams, food banks and school programs. In March of 2018, Fresh Thyme also launched its Giving Bag Program which since has raised and donated more than $41,000.
Fresh Thyme’s fourth annual golf tournament raised more than $500,000 for veteran’s charities Mission 22 and Warrior’s Heart, bringing its total contribution to more than $1.2 million. Both organizations are nonprofits that seek to help veterans and first responders with treatment programs and other forms of support.
Additionally, the year-round Vitamin Angels program not only will continue, but in 2018 Fresh Thyme increased its donation from 10 cents for every bottle of private label vitamins sold to 25 cents. Each year, beginning in December and through the end of the year, Fresh Thyme also provided shoppers the opportunity to round up at the register, with their extra change going to support the Vitamin Angels mission of providing malnourished mothers and children from all over the world with much-needed vitamins and supplements. To-date, Fresh Thyme has donated more than $600,000 to the organization, thus helping an estimated two million children worldwide.
Fresh Thyme has also strengthened its in-store programming for younger shoppers with its Kids Thyme Program—an initiative focused on introducing younger shoppers to fresh produce and better-for-you snacks.
The Kids Thyme Farm Stand re-launched this year and features three bins of fresh produce, a bin of vitamin and body care samples and one of coloring books and crayons. All of these items are available to kids for free!
A store tour program rolled out in May, which encourages schools to bring kids, ages 5-12, for a behind-the-scenes look at the various operations at the grocery store including bakery activity, taste-testing seasonal produce and bulk bin items, making fresh-squeezed orange juice and a healthy food scavenger hunt.