Booster

Owner hopes Lucky's charms Clintonville

Store that turns the spotlight on local, natural foods will open with fanfare Wednesday

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More than 100 local vendors were scheduled to drop off their products this week at the new Lucky's Market on North High Street to help stock the shelves in advance of the scheduled grand opening Wednesday, Oct. 23.

That would be in keeping with a vow company President Bo Sharon made back in January, one reiterated in a statement announcing the opening date.

"We seek out local, organic, sustainable and traditionally made foods produced with passion, values and community," the former child actor said. "We hold these three core values close to our hearts."

The transformation of a former Goodwill thrift store at 2770 N. High St. into a Colorado-based natural-foods grocer's first foray east of the Mississippi is going smoothly, and all is on schedule for the opening, Sharon said in an interview.

"It looks good," he said. "Not that there aren't always lessons in life to learn, but, knock on wood, we've been very -- no pun intended -- lucky with this one."

Sharon, who portrayed Richie Cunningham's son during the 1974 season of the sitcom Happy Days, opened the first Lucky's in 2003 with his wife, Trish, whom he met at culinary school after deciding to give up acting. The couple wanted to create a "foodie" shopping experience in a former convenience store in Boulder, Colo., according to a press release.

"Just as we invite guests into our home, we invite our customers into our stores with the goal of creating a memorable experience," Trish Sharon said in the announcement. "As food lovers ourselves, we would want to shop at a store built on quality products sold at affordable prices with genuine personal service."

"We are excited to bring affordable natural foods to Columbus," Bo Sharon added in the announcement. "As trained culinary professionals and downright foodies, we imagine our stores as an oasis of health, kindness and support.

"We strive to be active in the community, and look forward to providing our friends in Ohio a new taste and experience to bring home to their kitchens."

The Clintonville location had been scheduled as the first expansion of the original store, but a second location in Longmont, Calif., beat it to the punch, according to the announcement.

Bo Sharon said after the Columbus store is up and running, a fourth store is scheduled to open in mid-January in Columbia, Mo.

"The Clintonville-Columbus-area communities are very vocal, which is exciting and wonderful," said Robert Caoua, director of the new store.

The emphasis on locally produced products -- Sharon specifically mentioned Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams and pasta sauce from Carfagna's manufacturing facility in the Northland area -- has been helped greatly by people applying for jobs at the new Lucky's, Caoua said.

"We've been getting a lot of recommendations from the people we interview on the products to carry," he said. "We are probably connecting with local providers almost on a daily basis. I think that will be a path that we continue to follow."

"There's a wealth of locally made products, some of them drawing national attention these days, like Jeni's," Sharon said. "We're all like kids in a candy store looking at these local products.

"We had an orientation in Columbus (last week) and it was electric, is the best way to put it," he added. "Not to say we weren't incredibly excited prior, but to sit in a room with a group of 60 people who were passionately fired up and excited for the concept -- we're reeling."

According to the store director, the new Lucky's will have 120 employees.

"And only two of us are out-of-towners, and we're quickly adapting," Caoua said, referring to himself and the assistant director, who is from California. "Aside from that, the entire team ... are all Columbus if not Clintonville residents."

Sharon said company officials initially feared not enough people would want to work at the new store.

"Quite the contrary," he said. "The talent pool that applied was astounding. It's fantastic."

The Clintonville Lucky's will feature produce, meat, grocery, deli, cheese and "natural living" departments; the latter will include skin-care products, vitamins and supplements. Store hours will be 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Lucky's also will donate 5 percent of its net sales each Tuesday to a local school. Future beneficiaries include Clinton Elementary School, Oct. 29; Helping Hands Center, Nov. 5; Dominion Middle School, Nov. 12; and Indianola Alternative Elementary School, Nov. 19.

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