Owners Richard Hunt and Shelley Hawn cut a cake to celebrate the store’s anniversary in October 2016. Photo courtesy Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods owners strike a Fare deal, sell the store

After 40 years in the natural products business, the owners sold the store to Nature’s Fare

Penticton’s Whole Foods Market will soon become part of the Nature’s Fare chain, after it was sold by its owners earlier this week.

The sale comes at the tail end of a 40-year career in natural products for Shelley Hawn and Richard Hunt, who say they’re moving on to retirement and new things.

“There’s a lot of mixed emotions. We have a lot of pride in what we’ve accomplished, and we’re very humbled that we had so many people supporting us for so long,” Hunt said.

“I’m quite happy that we’ve managed to succeed and thrive for 40 years. Lots of businesses don’t make it past 10, let alone 40.”

The owners say they’re happy to have been a part of the natural food movement since it began. Hawn founded the store in 1983 and built it up through to the late 1990s, while Hunt worked elsewhere in the industry since the 1970s.

“Virtually no packaged goods were sold as organic. That would probably be the single biggest (change),” Hunt said. “At the beginning of the process, small, independent markets like ourselves, we had a corner on the market. The large grocery chains, they were just not interested.”

Now, Hunt said there’s a bit of an irony that Wal-Mart being the largest seller of organic products in the U.S.

“That is very strange, we sort of ended up being a victim of our own success, in a way,” Hunt said.

The store has gone through some changes over the years, first going by the name Bulk Food Emporium, selling no packaged, frozen or refrigerated items for some time. The store later took on the name Whole Food Emporium, before they settled on Whole Foods Market, which Hunt was quick to point out is not affiliated with the chain.

While the sale was finalized on Monday, the store will be officially handed over on July 17.

For the time being, Hunt says Nature’s Fare has stated plans to continue operating the market alongside their existing franchise in town.

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