John Varsames, VP of Operations, brings 25 years of retail and restaurant management experience to help Alfalfa’s achieve its new store growth plans.
BOULDER, Colo. (Dec. 17, 2013) – Alfalfa’s, a Boulder, Colo. owned and operated natural and organic market, announced today that natural products retail operations veteran, John Varsames, has been named Vice President of Operations. Varsames brings 25 years of retail operations experience to Alfalfa’s, and has held senior operations roles at leading natural products retailers, including Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats Markets.
“We are happy to have someone with John’s industry knowledge and operations experience at Alfalfa’s,” said Mark Retzloff, President and CEO of Alfalfa’s. “As we gear up to open our second location in Louisville, Colo. next year, and lay the groundwork for future new Alfalfa’s stores seeding the Front Range of Colorado, John’s expertise will be a critical part of our growth and success.”
Varsames brings significant food retail and restaurant operations experience to the Alfalfa’s leadership team. His 25 years of experience includes extensive work in opening new stores, building and developing empowered teams, and driving successful financial performance. He comes to Alfalfa’s from Whole Foods Market, where he was a member of the Rocky Mountain Leadership team for eight years. In that capacity, he served in several key operations roles, including store team leader at a variety of stores, and had a successful track record of optimizing performance of various store formats and sizes. Most recently, Varsames led successful transformations of acquired stores in Boulder and Golden, Colo., and served as a mentor, developing and coaching many of the company’s operations leaders.
Prior to joining Whole Foods Market, Varsames created an independently owned natural foods store, Blue Sky Market. In his nine years with Wild Oats Markets, he held several management positions, including regional food service director, director of new store development and senior director of new stores and operational procedures. In this capacity, he oversaw nearly all aspects of new store openings, including facility design, leasing, construction, implementation and operational efficiency. Prior to his career in the natural foods industry, Varsames worked in food management for Hyatt Hotels and Village Inn Restaurants.
“John’s experience in food service, retail operations and new store development provide the perfect blend of knowledge and expertise to help Alfalfa’s achieve our new store growth objectives,” said Retzloff. “We are excited about the possibilities and about bringing our high product standards, passion for natural and organic, and commitment to community to more neighborhoods along the Front Range of Colorado.”
Founded in Boulder, Colorado in 1983, Alfalfa’s Market grew to be one of the nation’s leading-edge natural products retailers throughout the 1980s and 1990s. With 11 stores and an iconic reputation for being a community gathering place filled with an infectious passion for natural and organic foods, Alfalfa’s Market was acquired by Wild Oats Markets in 1996. In 2011 Mark Retzloff, an original Alfalfa’s founder, Barney Feinblum, Hugo van Seenus and Jimmy Searcy resurrected the Alfalfa’s name with the reopening of the original Alfalfa’s at Broadway and Arapahoe in Boulder. The store is true to its roots as a Boulder-owned and operated natural foods market. For more information, please visit www.alfalfas.com.
GMO Labeling, Freedom to Know, Gains Support in Washington
Rep. Polis to join local activists to raise awareness February 20
BOULDER — Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) is the lead co-sponsor of a federal Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) labeling bill, which will require that accurate information be disclosed to consumers when food contains a genetically engineered material or is produced with such material. Following state GMO labeling efforts in California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Missouri and Washington State, this federal bill will grant consumers the right to know what they are eating.
“I am proud to help lead the GMO Labeling Bill, which is all about consumer choice and information,” said Congressman Jared Polis. “It’s important to empower people with the information they need to make their own healthy choices. People have the right to make consumer decisions based on accurate transparency in labeling, and knowledge is power.”
This event will be hosted by local food grocer, Alfalfa’s Market. Mark Retzloff, organic foods pioneer, co-founder and President of Alfalfa’s states, “As someone who has devoted his life and 43-year career to ensuring consumers have access to healthy organic foods, I think that consumers have a right to know how their food is produced, and the vast majority of consumers polled say they want to know if their food has been genetically modified. A federal labeling standard for GMO ingredients is the best choice for consumers and product manufacturers, as it provides transparency on the label and requires the same labeling standard for all manufacturers, regardless of their location or production methods.”
Genetically Modified Organisms have become an important part of our food supply, but today consumers have little ability to identify which products contain them.
- Over 50 countries around the world have significant restrictions or bans on GMO foods.
- According to a recent Washington Post article, 94% of Americans believe genetically modified foods should be labeled.
- An estimated 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered and 91 percent of soybeans.
- An estimated 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients.
- The organic food business, which is under threat from the uncontained spread of GMOs, is estimated at 30 billion dollars a year in the United States
- Mandatory labeling requirements for genetically engineered food produced in the United States would facilitate national trade by allowing American farmers and companies to export and appropriately market their products to foreign customers.
The GMO Labeling bill:
- States that consumers have a right to know whether the food they purchase contains or was produced with genetically engineered material.
- Defines the term genetically modified organism including plants, animals and fish and requirements for labeling.
- Provides a framework of civil penalties for violations.
Congressman Polis will be hosting a public event regarding the GMO Labeling Bill at Alfalfa’s Market, 1651 Broadway Street in Boulder on February 20th at 12:30 pm.
On Saturday, July 30th the Alfalfa’s parking lot will host a pancake breakfast benefit – all funds to be donated to Community Food Share
BOULDER, Colo. (July 26, 2011) – After an 11-year hiatus, three different store owners and store formats, the Alfalfa’s at Broadway & Arapahoe in Boulder is bringing back its popular Pancake Breakfast to benefit Community Food Share. The event will be held in the Alfalfa’s parking lot on Saturday, July 30 from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for kids 10 and under for live music and all-you-can-eat pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, coffee, juice and other breakfast treats, including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
“This was always one of our most popular events at Alfalfa’s and we had a great run doing it for 11 years from 1985 to 1996,” said Paul Gingerich, Culinary Director for Alfalfa’s. “It is part of our mission to give back to our local community, and our ever-popular Pancake Breakfast is just one of the ways we do this. Community Food Share does so much to fight hunger in and around Boulder, we want to do our part to support their programs, and everybody always has a lot of fun in the process.”
Community Food Share distributes food to those in need through a network of 56 Member Agencies and several Direct Service programs targeting specific at-risk populations such as families with children enrolled in the School Free Lunch program and low-income seniors. All food is distributed free of charge. In 2010, Community Food Share distributed over 7 million meals (1 meal = 1 pound), 440,000 more meals (7%) more than in 2009, and is on track to distribute more than 7 million meals in 2011. Community Food Share collects donated food from all grocery stores in our community, including Alfalfa’s, and receives many large food donations through programs arranged by Feeding America.
“At Community Food Share, we rely on the generosity of businesses like Alfalfa’s to help us raise funds, which allows us to continue to fight hunger in our community,” said Jim Baldwin, CEO of Community Food Share. “The Alfalfa’s Pancake Breakfast was always a favorite event in the Boulder community, and we are excited that it is coming back.”
About Alfalfa’s Market
Founded in Boulder, Colorado in 1983, Alfalfa’s Market grew to be one of the nation’s leading-edge natural products retailers throughout the 1980s and 1990s. With 11 stores and an iconic reputation for being a community gathering place filled with an infectious passion for natural and organic foods, Alfalfa’s Market was acquired by Wild Oats Markets in 1996. Now, 14 years later, Mark Retzloff, an original Alfalfa’s founder, Barney Feinblum and Hugo van Seenus have resurrected the Alfalfa’s name. The store is true to its roots as a Boulder-owned and operated natural foods market. For more information, please visit www.alfalfas.com.
About Community Food Share
Community Food Share exists to ensure that no one in Boulder and Broomfield counties goes hungry. Now in its 30th year of service, Community Food Share distributes food to those in need through a network of 56 Member Agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and emergency food box programs, and several Direct Service programs targeting specific at-risk populations such as families with children enrolled in the School Free Lunch program and low-income seniors. All food is distributed free of charge. In 2010, Community Food Share distributed over 7 million meals (1 meal = 1 pound), 440,000 more meals (7%) more than in 2009.
The need in Boulder and Broomfield counties for food assistance is great. One out of every eight people lives at or below the poverty line ($29,055/year for a family of four). There are over 50,000 people in Boulder and Broomfield counties living in poverty (enough to fill Folsom Field) and 12,000 children enrolled in the School Free Lunch program in the Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley school districts. www.communityfoodshare.org.
April 22nd marks the day Alfalfa’s will re-open its doors to the Boulder community at its original Broadway and Arapahoe location
BOULDER, Colo. (April 7, 2011) – Alfalfa’s announced today it will officially open its doors to the public at 7:30 a.m. on Earth Day, Friday, April 22, 2011. This marks the return of an iconic chain of organic and natural food stores that were founded in Boulder in 1979 and that were actively involved in their local communities. Alfalfa’s inaugural store will be located at 1651 Broadway at Arapahoe in Boulder, which is where the first Alfalfa’s store got its start.
“Since we received the approval to purchase this store last June, we’ve been working hard to bring the people of Boulder the best the world has to offer in organic and natural foods,” said Mark Retzloff, co-founder and Chairman of Alfalfa’s. “We’ve completely remodeled the store and have hired an all-star team of nearly 200 staff. We can’t wait to open our doors to the public on Earth Day, which is a symbolic day considering Alfalfa’s history and commitment to sustainable agriculture.”
In addition to Mark Retzloff, Barney Feinblum, Hugo van Seenus and Jimmy Searcy – Alfalfa’s founders and long-time pioneers in the organic and natural products community – Alfalfa’s has staffed its store with many familiar faces in the local organic foods scene, including key management:
- Norm Everhart, Vice President of Store Development & Construction, is a seasoned pro who brings 30 years of experience building and designing retail spaces to Alfalfa’s. Norm held senior management-level positions in store design and facilities management at Haggen, SuperValu and Mrs. Gooch’s Natural Food Markets.
- Paul Gingerich, Director of Meat & Seafood, started his career with Alfalfa’s in the early days when they made news by becoming one of the first stores to incorporate meat departments into what had traditionally been vegetarian “health food” stores in the 1980s. Paul, a foremost expert on all-natural meat and seafood, worked up through the stores and became Vice President of Meat & Seafood at Wild Oats Markets, and then went on to run the meat business for Albert’s Organics before coming home to Alfalfa’s.
- Dale Kamibayashi, Director of Purchasing, was the original store director at this Alfalfa’s location in 1983. He stayed on with Alfalfa’s through the Wild Oats merger and, after leaving Wild Oats in 1999, worked for several leading natural and organic foods companies, including Small Planet Foods, Rapunzel and Ceres Organics.
- Stacee McGovern, Director of Marketing, started her 15-year natural foods retail career at Wild Oats. She has since held marketing positions at leading food retail brands, including Noodles & Company and Whole Foods Market.
- Tim Overlie, Store Director, has spent more than 30 years in the natural, organic and specialty foods retail industry. He started with Alfalfa’s in 1983 at the Broadway and Arapahoe store, and continued his career in key operations and buying positions at Wild Oats. Most recently, he was CEO of Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy.
- JP Patrick, Director of Culinary Services, manages the prepared foods, bakery, coffee and juice bar departments. He comes to Alfalfa’s with more than 15 years of culinary and product development experience. JP is an award-winning chef who has served as director of culinary research and development for leading food service companies, including Udi’s Handcrafted Foods, Noodles & Company, American Blue Ribbon Holdings and Yoshida Foods.
“At Alfalfa’s, service comes first and we believe the quality, knowledge and energy of the people we hire will help make our retail experience distinct and enjoyable for our community,” said Retzloff. “That’s why we’ve taken extra care in bringing in an experienced management staff, and in training our store employees so they are ready to serve and to share their passion when we open our doors on Earth Day. It was this passion and our support of the local community that made Alfalfa’s special before, and will make us special again – 32 years after we opened our first store.”
In addition to hiring passionate, experienced people who understand the Boulder organic foods market, Alfalfa’s has made it a priority to work with many Boulder-based companies in the development and construction of its store. This support includes local design firm, CommArts, PEH Architects and general contractor, Deneuve Construction.
Founded as Pearl Street Market in Boulder, Colorado in 1979, Alfalfa’s Market grew to be one of the nation’s leading-edge natural products retailers throughout the 1980s and 1990s. With 11 stores and an iconic reputation for being a community gathering place filled with an infectious passion for natural and organic foods, Alfalfa’s Market was acquired by Wild Oats Markets in 1996. Now, 15 years after the merger, Mark Retzloff, an original Alfalfa’s founder, Barney Feinblum, Hugo van Seenus and Jimmy Searcy have resurrected the Alfalfa’s name.
Alfalfa’s is a Boulder-owned and operated organic and natural foods market. With a modern store environment, Alfalfa’s has preserved the same passion, adherence to strict product standards and true community market experience that the original Alfalfa’s was known for. For more information, please visit www.alfalfas.com.
Locally owned and operated Boulder-based natural foods and community market will re-open in its original Boulder location.
BOULDER, Colo. (June 21, 2010) – A-M Holdings, LLC, the holding company for Alfalfa’s Market, announced today it received approval from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to acquire the Whole Foods Market store at 1651 Broadway in Boulder, as well as the Alfalfa’s Market name and intellectual property. This transaction is the culmination of a several-year negotiation between Whole Foods Market and the FTC that required Whole Foods Market to divest certain stores and other assets obtained in the 2007 merger with Wild Oats Markets. The purchase price and other details relating to this transaction are not being disclosed.
“We are thrilled to bring Alfalfa’s back to our hometown of Boulder in the exact location where it all started,” said Mark Retzloff, co-founder of Alfalfa’s Market. “As Boulderites ourselves, we will be able to directly address the needs of this community with our passion for natural and organic food, and healthcare products. We are working with a team of seasoned foodies, retail and organic industry pros to develop a new, state-of-the-art retail experience while maintaining the local, all-natural and community market feel Alfalfa’s was always known for.”
At the end of July 2010, Alfalfa’s Market will obtain ownership of the Broadway and Arapahoe store, which will close for an extensive remodel. The store is expected to re-open as Alfalfa’s Market by the end of 2010.
About Alfalfa’s Market
Founded in Boulder, Colorado in 1983, Alfalfa’s Market grew to be one of the nation’s leading-edge natural products retailers throughout the 1980s and 1990s. With 11 stores and an iconic reputation for being a community gathering place filled with an infectious passion for natural and organic foods, Alfalfa’s Market was acquired by Wild Oats Markets in 1996. Now, 14 years later, Mark Retzloff, an original Alfalfa’s founder, Barney Feinblum and Hugo van Seenus have resurrected the Alfalfa’s name. The new store will be true to its roots as a Boulder-owned and operated natural foods market. While the store will be modernized, it will retain the same passion, adherence to strict product standards and true community market experience that Alfalfa’s was known for.