WESTBURY, N.Y. -- King Kullen here is converting one of its supermarkets to a full-service organic and natural foods store.
The store, to be called Wild By Nature Market, will feature nutritional, additive-free fresh foods and environmentally friendly grocery products.
The site is in the Long Island community of Setauket, N.Y., and is scheduled to open this summer. King Kullen is considering expanding the natural food retail format elsewhere the New York metropolitan area.
Tom Cullen, vice president of government, industry, and public relations, said the format is similar to stores run by Fresh Fields, Rockville, Md., and Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, but will be merchandised to suit the Long Island shopper.
"We feel that we know the marketplace, we know the demographics of the area," Cullen told SN. "They have already perfected the concept, but we have looked at their concept, and we see that there is truthfully a need for this type of market on Long Island. Long Island is lacking in stores that cater to the needs of the health-conscious consumer."
The store will be operated by a corporate affiliate of King Kullen also called Wild By Nature. The affiliate, was created specifically to develop this store and others of its kind in the region, Cullen said.
"We feel we can expand out of this marketplace. We perceive that this will be a very successful concept," Cullen said.
The store will boast natural or organic deli, seafood and meat departments, as well as grocery and a health and beauty care section with organic vitamins and supplements. Bulk bins will carry
numerous products such as pasta, beans, cereal, grains and flours.
The scratch bakery and deli will produce products with only all-natural flavors and colorings. For example, honey and maple syrup will be used as sweeteners.
A food court will offer all-natural coffees, fruit juices and yogurt.
The grocery aisles may carry some of the products found in a typical supermarket but the majority of the items will be geared more toward consumers who are conscious about the environment as well as their health. Cullen said the company's goal is to sell products that are not just healthful, but that have environmentally friendly packaging, such as recyclable or re-usable containers.
The physical structure, a 17,000- to 18,000-square-foot site that King Kullen has occupied for about 25 years, is currently undergoing major renovations. "The ambiance of the store is going to be very warm and friendly, with an emphasis on nature," said Cullen.
He said King Kullen has not yet pulled together the management team for Wild By Nature, but will keep its management different from that of King Kullen. A team of professional consultants will be hired to get the store up and running, Cullen added, but he declined to name the consultancy.
The chain has been planning the concept for three or four years. It has been carrying organic produce chainwide since September 1993.
It also recently began offering low-fat muffins made from scratch in its bakery. Late last year, King Kullen started selling organic frozen items such as veggie burgers, and a line of hot organic foods in its deli.
The idea for Wild By Nature Market was developed by Dana Conklin, the granddaughter of founder Michael J. Cullen.
The news about King Kullen's new format follows closely after two nationally-recognized natural food supermarket operators said they will bring stores to the Tri-State area.
Fresh Fields recently opened one of its upscale natural foods stores in Greenwich, Conn., and said it intends to open four more in the region within the next few years. Whole Foods Market, meanwhile, said it plans to open a store in Manhattan.