After 23 years in business, Jacksonville-based Native Sun Natural Foods Market will permanently close its three stores.
Native Sun operated at 10000 San Jose Blvd. in Mandarin, 11030 Baymeadows Road in Baymeadows and 1585 N. Third St. in Jacksonville Beach.
Aaron Gottlieb, the store’s founder and CEO, said in a statement the influx of grocery chains into the area, especially the nine specialty grocers that arrived since 2015, was the main reason for the decision to close.
Gottlieb was not available for comment Tuesday because he was working with his employees. He said a closing date will be determined soon.
Sprouts Farmers Market is one of the latest chains to move into the area, opening July 10 in The Markets at Town Center and planning a second store at Tamaya.
“Jacksonville has grocery stores ‘sprouting’ up like weeds; crowding each other as well as the local flora,” he said. “We are sad to say that we didn’t have a deep enough well to keep us going.”
At the time Native Sun opened, there were smaller natural food stores, but no grocers focused on organic ingredients, Gottlieb said in an interview in January 2017.
Gottlieb said he and his wife, Erica, started the company to give access to “clean food, wellness products, and most of all – education.”
“I deeply believe the local independent business is the heart of the community,” Gottlieb said. “I am hopeful that our community will be blessed with another local organic grocer in our future. As all things great come back again.”
National specialty grocers that have opened in Jacksonville include Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Trader Joe’s, The Fresh Market, Lucky's and Sprouts.
Most have locations or plan to add sites in Mandarin and Jacksonville Beach.
Aldi, a discount chain that includes natural foods, also is expanding within the market. Publix Super Markets Inc. will open two GreenWise Markets in St. Johns County.