By John Schaffner

The Fresh Market opened its sixth metro Atlanta store at 4405 Roswell Road Oct. 17, right on the border between Sandy Springs and Buckhead in the newly renovated Weiuca-Roswell Shopping Center.

This is the second Fresh Market store in Buckhead and is a little bit different and a little smaller, at 19,000 square feet, than the other store located on Peachtree Road near Bennett Street. But the new store is bringing 90 new jobs to the area, with all of the staff being hired locally. The store manager, Vickie Welch, came from the store in Suwanee.

Although the design and size of the store may be different, “but certainly the concept and feel of the store and the product and pricing will be the same,” said Craig Carlock, chief operating officer of The Fresh Market.

He said this store is also a little smaller than the one in Suwanee, but about the same size as the stores in Dunwoody, Alpharetta and Johnson’s Ferry Road in East Cobb.

Asked how The Fresh Market differentiates itself from other food stores in the market, such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and the traditional chain stores, Carlock said, “We are great competitors in all the markets where we operate. We believe we provide a great shopping experience and a great food experience. So the store is designed for the customer to have a great experience,” he explained.

“For instance, we always have a meat cutter on duty so that if you have any questions about the kind of meat to buy or how to prepare something we are able to answer questions,” Carlock said. “If you want a custom cut or a certain kind of pork roast, we are able to handle that at all times.”

Carlock said The Fresh Market has a high degree of labor relative to its sales. “It is set up so that our folks interact with the customer throughout the shopping experience. We distinguish ourselves by the experience you have in the store.”

Carlock said the product does not vary from store to store within the Atlanta market even though the demographics of the customers might vary somewhat. “Our experience is that, while the customers aren’t identical, we have overlapping groups of customers and they enjoy quality,” he explained. “So we work on the best meat we can put in everywhere.”

He said it is not that the company is insensitive to the differences in demographics. “We just think we should bring to each market the best we can. Once we have found the best, we are going to offer it to everybody.”

Carlock said he feels the new store is in a “tremendous location. There is a great customer base there and our store will be accessible to them.”

During the phone interview with him at his office in Greensboro, NC, where The Fresh Market is headquartered, Carlock said that during the grand opening and days following it, “We will have a lot of what we call theater in the store,” using food stations and sampling throughout the store. “We are not balloons in the parking lot, radio station kinds of folks. It is not a carnival.”

One of the things other than food that The Fresh Market is known for is its inexpensive roses by the dozen. “It is one of the items that we are really recognized for and we have found that customers have really responded to our ability to scope out year round really attractive roses at good prices,” he stated.

“What we want customers to understand is that we feel we have similar values throughout the store, where the quality is good and the price is fair,” he added.

The Fresh Market is 100 percent owned by a family in Greensboro and the same family has owned it since the company was started 25 years ago. Carlock said the company is actively looking at other opportunities in the Atlanta market. “There are 4.2 million people in the Atlanta greater metropolitan area and we believe that there are more areas where people would enjoy The Fresh Market.”

The company currently operates 73 stores in the Southeast and Midwest.

The Fresh Market will be open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.