My name is John Sturm. I am the director of Sunflower Markets, LLC. Anne Laker’s article, “Great Grub” (Cover, Feb. 1-8) offered some interesting first impressions into our new organic market in Broad Ripple. We appreciated some of those comments. However, I think she missed the mark in characterizing us as “corporate organic.” Ms. Laker challenged us as a “neighborhood store” simply because we are owned by a larger parent company.

The Broad Ripple neighborhood has been overwhelmingly supportive of Sunflower Market! I know this because I spent countless hours talking to customers in the store nearly every day since the store opened. I read every comment card and e-mail from every Sunflower customer. I can tell you that approximately 115 out of 119 written comments have been exceptionally positive. I think your readers should hear what customers are saying.

They thank us for taking an old and rundown building and restoring it into a warm and welcoming new market. Unlike another national natural foods retailer that recently announced plans to come to Indianapolis, our plan didn’t infringe on neighborhoods and encroach upon precious natural woodlands. We incurred a lot of extra real estate and construction costs to truly become part of the Broad Ripple neighborhood. We did it right!

Some of Ms. Laker’s other conclusions were based on obscure points. For instance, she challenged our low prices based on a single label/scan error. If she took the time to conduct a broader pricing survey, she would have found that our prices on natural and organic foods are noticeably lower compared to other stores.

In reality, customers applaud us for our low prices. There are no gimmicks here. The reason our prices are low is because we believe in running an efficient and smart store. The format of the store is very productive for our employees and we use technology to squeeze unnecessary costs out. By leveraging the buying power of our parent company, we buy much better than our competition. While the pricing on advertised specials will fluctuate from month-to-month, your readers should know that our low prices are here to stay!

Customers also tell us that they love our fresh produce. We developed the all-glass shoppable produce cooler as a better way to preserve the quality of fresh produce. It’s been so successful that retailers from around the country are making special trips to Indy just to see it. It is being heralded as one of the most exciting produce innovations in some time.

Finally, I want you to know that we are big fans of traditional health food stores like Good Earth. We hope they remain successful. They help in educating all consumers about the benefits of organics. Customers like choices. Sunflower Market is simply another choice. The sales of organic food are growing eight times faster than conventional food. There is plenty of room for all of us to peacefully co-exist. Ultimately, the customer wins.

It has been an honor for me personally to serve Broad Ripple and the greater Indianapolis communities. Keep up the good work. I really enjoy your publication!

John Sturm

Director, Sunflower Markets, LLC

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