Sunflower Market, SuperValu's new natural and organic foods chain, is practicing what it preaches in seeking out and forging partnerships with leading local bakeries.
The company opened its second store in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, and a third store opened this month next to the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio.
Bleeding Heart Bakery, a socially conscious, organic-minded shop that was voted Chicago's best bakery by Chicago magazine, is supplying baked products for the Chicago location. Upscale Columbus based Eleni-Christina Artisan Bread, which splits its business between retail and wholesale sales, will supply specialty bread to the Ohio store.
"Any time Sunflower opens a store in a market, they do an exhaustive search in that market for fresh, natural and organic products and manufacturers within that market, in that area," said John Sturm, vice president of operations for Sunflower Market.
"They approached us, and once we started talking, the creative juices started flowing," said Tasi Rigsby of Eleni-Christina. "We settled on five varieties of artisan bread."
The Bleeding Heart and Eleni-Christina products will carry a special "Local Treasures" tag, a designation afforded to locally made products sold in the stores.
"We deliver to Sunflower twice a day, six days a week," Rigsby said. "We make sure we have fresh bread there at 8 a.m., and again in the afternoon."
While Bleeding Heart and Eleni-Christina will supply fresh baked products, Sunflower will rely primarily on partner French Meadow Baking Company for par-baked dough, bakery packaging and other items associated with Sunflower's in-store bakeries. SuperValu has plans for an additional Sunflower Market store in Columbus, and expects to expand soon in the central Ohio area.