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OPN Connect Newsletter 332 · August 10, 2023

Lazy Acres Opens New LA Store; Scott Wiggans Shares Produce Updates


Late last month, Lazy Acres Natural Market, a Southern California natural foods retailer, opened a new location in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Organic set on display at the new Lazy Acres Los Feliz (Provided by Lazy Acres Natural Market)

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“We are excited to open our sixth store in the community of Los Feliz,” said Forrest Gonsiewski, senior vice president of Lazy Acres. “This is a really unique neighborhood, and we think the shoppers here share many of our core values like nourishing from the inside-out with organic foods, living a lifestyle focused on health and wellness, and making our decisions with the good of the community in mind. Lazy Acres is a special kind of community market, and we look forward to sharing that with the Los Feliz neighborhood.”

As with all Lazy Acres’ stores, the new Los Feliz location features an array of natural, organic, and locally sourced foods—and includes a predominantly organic produce department.

Scott Wiggans, Produce Director, Lazy Acres

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“Our Los Feliz store offers the same selection as our other five stores along the California coast, and as we have grown since opening in 1991, we have continued to increase our produce variety,” shared Lazy Acres’ Produce Director Scott Wiggans. “Consistently, we have at least 75 percent of the department fully organic. While we strive to only carry organic produce, we may need to source conventional alternatives when organic is just not available or due to customer preference.”

“This is a really unique neighborhood, and we think the shoppers here share many of our core values like nourishing from the inside-out with organic foods, living a lifestyle focused on health and wellness, and making our decisions with the good of the community in mind.” - Forrest Gonsiewski

The new Los Feliz store also offers a wide variety of organic fresh cut options, Wiggans said. “We made sure to have a large set of pre-cut organic fruits and veggies for customers to grab and take with them on a hike in Griffith Park or for a healthy snack at a show at the Greek or Hollywood Bowl. We devote a lot of time to cutting our top-quality organic fruits and vegetables in-house to meet the high standards of our customers.”

Wiggans noted that Lazy Acres is dedicated to "longtime longtime partnerships with growers committed to cultivating organic fruits and vegetables without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. In making that planet-friendly choice, these growers collectively lighten our environmental footprint,” he said. “We are always working with our vendors to ensure that we stay committed to bringing only the best quality to our customers. Growers that are taking it a step beyond and using practices that build soil integrity and lessen the need for additives and additional watering are leaving a better future for the generations to come.”

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Early Girl Dry Farm tomatoes from the 2022 harvest (Provided by Lazy Acres Natural Market)

When it comes to high-demand late-summer items at Lazy Acres, Wiggans spotlighted Dirty Girl Produce’s organic Early Girl dry-farmed tomatoes. “While very popular in Northern California, these are not super available locally,” he said. “We introduced [these dry-farmed] favorites last year in Southern California, and our customers loved them! Anytime that we can pair sustainability with a great organic offering is a slam dunk in our book.”

“Consistently, we have at least 75 percent of the department fully organic. While we strive to only carry organic produce, we may need to source conventional alternatives when organic is just not available or due to customer preference.” - Scott Wiggans

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Wiggans said another popular item soon to hit Lazy Acres’ produce departments are package-free organic grapes from Air Chief in the San Joaquin Valley. “Not only are they a sustainable option where we skip plastic packaging in favor of paper produce bags that can easily be reused or recycled, but customers can purchase as much or as little as they want and efficiently combat food waste,” he said.

Organic, package-free grapes from San Joaquin Valley, CA are great for snacking (Provided by Lazy Acres Natural Market)

In terms of inflation’s impact on organic produce movement at the SoCal retailer, Wiggans shared that in the early part of this year sales were “relatively flat” but noted that the numbers began climbing again in Q2 and Q3.

“Anytime that we can pair sustainability with a great organic offering is a slam dunk in our book.” - Scott Wiggans

“We look to be on track to continue to see increases for the rest of the year, especially as we head into the fall,” he said. “From what we have seen, economic inflation has not affected organic produce as much as it did conventional produce over the last year or so. At Lazy Acres, we continue to focus on promoting organic produce more every day with larger displays of the organic items that we find are at the season’s best. Another reason that the newest store in Los Feliz is a great fit for the Lazy Acres brand is because we have seen they are dedicated organic shoppers looking for those items.”

Lazy Acres Produce Director, Scott Wiggans (L) and Dirty Girl Produce farm owner Joe Schirmer (R) on a farm tour during the 2022 harvest (Provided by Lazy Acres Natural Market)

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Lazy Acres Community Program Manager Robin Nardello said the new store’s opening on the weekend of July 29 was a “huge success. … With a soft opening on Friday, and our larger celebration on Saturday, it was great to see that a new name in the neighborhood was so well received and already beloved, especially in support of how committed we are to the communities that we serve,” she said. “We introduced several community-minded programs including our hands-on cooking class program and our Envirotokens program, where customers are encouraged to shop with their reusable grocery bags, which we reward by giving them the opportunity to donate 10¢ per bag to six nonprofits located in and serving the local community.”

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