A grocery store in Boulder, Colo., is making the leap to a chain operation -- and Clintonville is on tap as its first new location.
Lucky's Farmers Market of Columbus LLC filed incorporation papers with the Ohio Secretary of State's Office on Jan. 7, but prior to that, a local attorney had initiated the process for obtaining variances for the proposed store at 2784 N. High St., formerly a Volunteers of America thrift store.
The new store will be located across the street from Giant Eagle.
"Clintonville just feels right, is the best way to put it," company President Bo Sharon said from Boulder last week. "It's a tight community, a like-minded community and supportive of each other."
Sharon is a former child star who began acting at the age of 3, according to the Lucky's website.
He has appeared in more than 90 television commercials, nine movies and 50 TV shows, including Happy Days, Murphy Brown and Beverly Hills 90210.
Sharon turned to the study of cooking at age 16 and opened Lucky's Market in Boulder in 2003.
Now, he has teamed with former executives of Wild Oats and Sunflower Farmers Market to launch the Lucky's brand in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri, in addition to Ohio.
Sharon said the store sells local and organic products as well as national brands and household items. The expansion targets cities with universities, as is the case in Boulder as well as the other target for this year: Bozeman, Mont.
The Columbus store will be just north of the Ohio State University campus.
"These are highly educated, deeply loyal communities that are underserved in terms of high-quality fresh produce and natural products at fair-value pricing," according to a section of the company's website that quietly announced the expansion. "Lucky's Farmers Market has been created as 'one-stop' convenient shopping experience by carrying the best in fresh produce and natural products comingled with top-selling mainstream grocery brands."
The timing of the expansion into a chain of stores, Sharon said late last week, is the result of changes in the past decade or so in how Americans view food and how important fresh and natural products have become.
"All of that kind of just built to it being the right time, just feeling right," he said. "As we get out and explore in the cities, it feels perfect."
The variances requested on behalf of Plaza Properties, serving as the agent for Lucky's Farmers Market of Columbus LLC, include omitting required fencing along Kinnear Place and Olentangy Street as well as landscaping within the parking lot of the existing shopping center.
"The variances are requested because the existing shopping (center) abuts two public streets, Olentangy and Kinnear Place, and there is no place to erect the fencing and landscaping along these public rights of way," attorney Jackson B. Reynolds III wrote in the application, filed Dec. 17. "Further, the shopping center is small and meets the parking space requirement exactly, and the code requirements for trees and planter islands would greatly reduce the number of parking spaces for the site."
The variance requests will be discussed at the next meeting of the Clintonville Area Commission's zoning and variance committee, set for 7 p.m. Jan. 29 in the sanctuary of Clinton Heights Lutheran Church, 15 Clinton Heights Ave.
"Based on the application, I do not have any serious objections to what they are proposing," zoning and variance committee Chairwoman Dana K.G. Bagwell wrote in an email. "There may be some questions from the committee, but these issues are typical. I do not foresee any major obstacles."
If the various processes required to permit Lucky's to locate at 2784 N. High St. fall into place, Sharon said he hopes to open the store around mid-October.
"It's just as much your grocery store as it is ours, built on a connection and a common understanding that food has brought us together and the food you bring home reminds you of us," Sharon said. "We want to make sure those are exceptional memories. It's a celebration of good food and nutritious food and an acknowledgement of the thanks for coming to visit us."