Sprouts Farmers Market opens in SLO — and the first customers got a big discount

The long-awaited Sprouts Farmers Market is now open in the SLO Promenade shopping center — and customers are coming out in large numbers to explore it.

The new, 30,000-square-foot grocery store at 313 Madonna Road, Suite A, was packed Wednesday with visitors examining products, gauging prices, and simply getting their shopping chores accomplished.

The first 200 customers at Sprouts walked out with a 20 percent discount on their total purchase. Shoppers were expected to receive free, reusable green bags with the slogan “It’s Healthy Living for Less!” through the end of business hours at 10 p.m. Wednesday.

On Wednesday, shoppers seemed largely pleased by the new supermarket.

“The store is great and I’ve seen some really nice products and prices, especially on cheese,” San Luis Obispo resident Kara Leonard said. “And it’s nice to have multiple options because I’m a multiple store shopper. I go to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and this store will add another.”

But Leonard said she was hoping to find more products from local brands.

“I think that’s the only thing I’d say that I was hoping was a little different,” Leonard said. “I am seeing a lot of produce from Mexico. And for me personally, I prefer local produce, which Whole Foods seems to have more of.”

The new Sprouts Farmers Market store opened in San Luis Obispo on Wednesday. Joe Johnston

A walk through the aisles revealed produce from Mexico that included heirloom tomatoes, bananas and red mangoes, among others.

The store issued a statement saying its “locally made brands” include products from Enzo Olive Oil Co. in Madera, Lark Ellen Farm in Ojai, Pacific Pickle Works in Santa Barbara and Claravale Farm, based in Paicines near San Joaquin.

Meanwhile, Whole Foods’ owner, Amazon, announced price cuts this week averaging about 20 percent on certain items.

Upon their first visit, multiple Sprouts shoppers said products appeared fresh and healthy and were available at competitive prices.

“Of course this is my first time shopping here, but Sprouts seems to have good quality for a good price, especially compared to Whole Foods,” said Kat Neal, a Cal Poly student, who was purchasing fruits and vegetables.

On Wednesday, bananas retailed at 69 cents per pound, while Hass avocados cost 98 cents apiece, kiwis were $1 a pair and a 1.36 pounds of organic chicken breast cost $9.51.

The new Sprouts Farmers Market store opened in San Luis Obispo on Wednesday. Joe Johnston

At midday Wednesday, dozens of customers perused the aisles and each clerk had a line at checkout.

“It seemed nice and clean, and to have a good variety,” said Arroyo Grande resident JoEllen Childers, after leaving the store with a cart of products. “And I now have some nice, big reusable bags.”

San Luis Obispo resident Christine Kimball said that she was pleased to have a new store near her home on the southwest end of town.

“I’m closest to Ralph’s so this adds another option,” Kimball said. “And what was nice is they let me try some free samples today.”

Earlier in 2019, the store filled about 150 positions, hiring for all but two of its available jobs after a two-day hiring event in February, according to a store publicist. The remaining two positions have since been filled.

Building permits have been issued to REI Co-op for a new store in the space next to Sprouts in the old Forever 21 building, which has been divided into smaller units.

Construction work was happening Wednesday to renovate that space, though REI has not yet confirmed it will move in.

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.