New Frontiers finds new, fresh market

Name: Jake Collier

Job: Vice president and California regional manager

Business: New Frontiers Natural Marketplace

What they said then: In November, New Frontiers Natural Marketplace moved its San Luis Obispo grocery from Foothill Boulevard to Los Osos Valley Road.

By doubling the store’s size, the 33,000-square-foot location could offer larger areas for perishables.

Moving away from a location near Cal Poly was expected to cut into New Frontiers’ student business, as it did when its Flagstaff store moved away from Northern Arizona University to a larger location.

“We’re likely to see more people from the Pismo (Beach) and Arroyo Grande areas who may not have been coming to the other location,” said Ron Colone, director of marketing for the Solvang-based company.

What he says now: The larger store is performing “a little bit above” projections, said Jake Collier, vice president and California regional manager for the fivestore chain.

“The deli is performing way above our projections,” Collier added. “Of all the areas of the store, that one has far exceeded our expectations.”

Local employment has almost doubled, with 190 workers — 90 in the deli alone. Most are part time. Companywide, New Frontiers employs close to 700 people.

The new “destination” store also added a floral department, a cheese island, an olive bar and expanded the amount of produce from local farmers. It has a larger display area for fresh fish, plus more vitamins, and health and beauty products.

“We’re experiencing a whole segment of customers we weren’t really getting in the old store,” Collier said.

The new store did lose students without cars, but South County families have shown up.

“Usually families spend more,” he added. “They have a bigger basket size.”

Again following its Flagstaff sister store, the San Luis location will soon add solar panels. Rooftop installation should be done by the end of November.

The store will use the power — about 100 kilowatts — generated. Rebates and tax incentives help defray the cost of the panels, Collier said. It will take seven years before costs are recuperated and the panels start saving money.

The customer service area will tout them on a television monitor spouting facts and figures, as well as information like how weather affects energy generation.

“It’s in line with our goals and our mission to be a better business on this planet and do as much as we can to live in harmony with natural forces,” Collier said. “When the people feel their personal goals are aligned with certain businesses, they tend to frequent those businesses.