Fresh Thyme set for another new store as its expansion plans continue

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Farmers' market-style grocery chain Fresh Thyme is continuing its expansion in the Twin Cities – with its latest metro area store planned for Vadnais Heights.

The fresh and organic grocer opened its first store in Bloomington last year, and according to various reports also has plans to open outlets in Plymouth, St. Paul, Apple Valley and St. Louis Park.

According to the Pioneer Press, the latest target for the Chicago-based retailer is Vadnais Heights, with the Vadnais Square Shopping Center confirming Fresh Thyme will be taking over the former home of Festival Foods, which closed last fall.

Vadnais Square co-owner Jeff Hagen told the newspaper Fresh Thyme will share the 50,000-square-foot space with a pet supply store.

A representative of the shopping center also told the Vadnais Heights Press that the new market is expected to open either this spring or early summer, though the company has not yet commented on the plans.

Although having only been around for just over three years, Fresh Thyme is pursuing an aggressive expansion plan with the intention of opening between 10-12 stores in Minnesota and more than 60 nationwide.

It describes itself as a "full-service specialty retailer" focusing on "value-priced fresh, healthy, natural and organic offerings." It also says it is "on a mission to improve the way our communities eat."

Its entry into the metro area market comes amid a time of great change in the grocery sector, with Fresh Thyme joining Iowa-based Hy-Vee as new arrivals to the Twin Cities to challenge the dominance of Cub Foods, Wal-Mart and Target.

There have been similar moves from upmarket retailers such as Whole Foods and Trader Joes, which have been pursuing expanding, as well as the growing influence of wholesale buying clubs such as Costco and Sam's Club.

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