Mrs. Green’s Natural Market is not your ordinary grocery store.
For one thing, you won’t find Fruit Loops or Folgers in its aisles. You will find organic kale, antibiotic-free beef, and two registered dieticians roaming the store (and on the night before its grand opening, a violinist).
The New-York-based grocery store, which offers organic produce and preservative-free goods that are mostly local and all-natural, set up shop at the corner of Webster and Lincoln—its first Midwest outpost.
“This neighborhood was in need of a natural market,” said Kristen Johnson, one of the store’s dieticians. “We wanted an everyday place where you can go for all your grocery needs.”
The 25,000-square-foot shop, which local artists decorated, brims with meal options: spinach and sage pesto, organic honeydew, juices, pumpkin “fro-yo” (20 calories of pumpkin puree, water, and cane sugar), all-natural tacos, gluten-free products, organic French baguettes, organic coffee, and more.
“We draw a line in the sand to be all natural where we can be,” said Zoran Minic, the store manager.
More and more customers are showing up educated on pesticides and preservatives, Minic said. He hopes Mrs. Green’s will meet customers’ needs and become a leader in the organic and natural market.
This organic and natural food, often brought in from local farmers and vendors, does come at a higher price, said Ray Jones, manager of the market’s non-perishable goods. Though he said the price is competitive.
“We’re a little under Whole Foods, but a little above Trader Joe’s,” Jones said. “It takes a little bit of educating the public, when people come in to talk to them and tell them why eating healthy costs a little more.”
Jones said he hopes the store will have a positive affect on the community’s lifestyle and eating habits. “I just want to wrap my arms around the neighborhood and take care of them,” he said.
Store employees said education will play a big role in their community outreach. The dieticians hope to team up with local schools and charities to help build a garden or teach children about nutritional eating. Customers are also welcome to free consultations with dieticians, who will have a separate phone line, Manic said.
Many customers who attended the store’s unveiling were excited about the new neighborhood store.
“It’s incredible,” said Kenneth Dotson, who lives nearby. “It’s badly needed in the area. We didn’t have anything of this quality that we could walk to.”
Susan Redeker, a 73-year-old who lives a block away, said she and her husband will be shopping at Mrs. Green’s for the prepared foods.
“My husband was in the grocer business, so I’m noticing he’s very pleased,” she said. “I can tell he likes it.”
Lincoln Park Aldermen Michele Smith also stopped by on the night of the opening, calling the store “delightful” and “lovely.”
Michele Smith, alderman of Chicago's 43rd Ward.
“What I’m really proud of is once again when a business looks where to expand from the East Coast, they come to Lincoln Park,” she said. “They’ve demonstrated they wanted to be an intimate part of this community.”
Her words were echoed by Minic, the store manager.
“I think we’ll be here a long time.”