Multiple organic vendors — and Walmart — poised to enter northeast Johnson County grocery market

The grocery store landscape in northeast Johnson County could undergo radical change in the next couple of years with up to four new players potentially entering the market, with two new stores planned for Westwood and two for Mission.

What’s more, three of these grocers focus on organic or natural foods.

GreenAcres will anchor the new Woodside Village development in Westwood.
GreenAcres will anchor the new Woodside Village development in Westwood.

The fourth entry is the new Walmart Neighborhood Market in Westwood at 47th Street and Mission Road, which will be the first of the new grocery stores to open. Walmart is renovating the former Apple Market store and should be set for an opening later this year.

Years after the Wild Oats store in Mission closed its doors, its niche could be filled by three new stores in the area: Sprouts Farmers Market, Natural Grocers and GreenAcres Market. All three are focused on the health, organic and natural foods market.

Sprouts is planning a store in the new Gateway development, right across the street from the vacant Wild Oats building. It was among the first tenants announced for Gateway along with the Walmart store moving from Roeland Park. Sprouts had an initial public offering in early August and its stock price more than doubled the first day of trading. Sprouts has more than 160 locations, primarily in the Southwest and has aggressive expansion plans, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal this month that listed Whole Foods as its major competitor. There are no stores in the Kansas City market yet.

GreenAcres Market is an announced anchor tenant for the new Woodside Village development planned for Westwood at Rainbow and 47th Place. GreenAcres shows three existing locations, one of which is in Briarcliff Village in Kansas City. It touts healthy, natural foods and farmers markets at its stores.

Natural Grocers is the only one of the new stores whose tenant status is uncertain. Natural Grocers has been announced as a tenant for the planned Cornerstone Commons development at the west end of downtown Mission, essentially at the other end of Johnson Drive from the Sprouts location.

However, the city council has not signed off on the Community Improvement District or the development agreement for the Cornerstone project. That is expected to come up for a vote at the next council meeting. The developer has said he is ready to break ground as soon as he gets approval.

Natural Grocers has four Kansas stores, including one at 91st and Metcalf and another planned for Shawnee. Since its July 2012 IPO, its stock had risen as much as 139 percent.

Existing stores in the market have also been undergoing renovations, the most recently completed being the Corinth Hen House remodel.