Economy & Economic Development  September 12, 2019

Sharons passion results in 39 stores in 16 years

BOULDER — When the founders of Lucky’s Market started out, they knew they wanted to stock the shelves with good, healthy food they would love to eat and serve.

Chefs Bo and Trish Sharon bought a small grocery store in Boulder that they soon expanded into the Lucky’s Market chain of natural food stores with 39 stores in 10 states. 

“We knew we wanted to stock the shelves with better food — food that we would want to eat, food that we would want to serve to our families, friends and children,” said Bo, CEO of Lucky’s. “This meant that we worked to source clean, local and delicious foods. Our motto has always been Good Food For All.”

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The Sharons wanted to sell quality, healthy foods, while keeping prices affordable and the service genuine and personal. They call what they offer “Organic for the 99 percent” and focus on natural, organic and locally-grown foods and other products.

Originally to do their cooking, the Sharons went to health food stores to avoid pesticides and growth hormones. They shopped for fresh produce at farmers markets and stopped at gourmet stores for good flavors, plus went to conventional grocery stores for the traditional ingredients they needed for their recipes. But they didn’t like having to shop at so many different places to complete their grocery list, while also paying high prices for high quality food.

“I have always been passionate about food, cooking, healthy living, food flavors and inventing. When I started cooking full meals for my two boys, I got even more conscious about healthy ingredients and balanced meals,” Bo said. “I wanted to teach them about putting the best fuel into their growing bodies. … Food fuels the body. But good food is even better at fueling the body. Healthy living is a way of life, not just a phase, and we embrace healthy living daily in our family.”

The Sharons had met in their early 20s at the Culinary Institute of America and decided to go into business for themselves while still focusing on their love of food.

“Bo went on to win 10 American Culinary Federation medals, while earning a spot on the 2002 USA Culinary Olympic team. Food had captured his heart, but (he) had yet to fulfill his need to serve others. So Lucky’s Market was born,” said Ben Friedland, vice president of marketing for Lucky’s. “They believed access to healthy, high-quality foods was not a privilege but a right. And they set out to prove it.”

To create Lucky’s, the Sharons purchased North Boulder Market in 2003 from Trish’s father with the intent of honoring the family legacy while changing the product mix. It was a small, independent grocery store that sold conventional products and a few natural and organic items. The Sharons, 23 at the time, recreated the grocery store into a neighborhood natural foods store called the North Boulder Lucky’s Market to make healthy food more readily available. To do this, they changed a majority of the existing distribution systems, found new suppliers, designated new supply chains and achieved certifications to sell specific products.

“(We) committed to a business model that allowed high-quality products at low prices people were not used to,” Bo said. “We wanted to create a place where people could gather, celebrate good food and save a few bucks along the way.”

The Sharons grew the business organically and from 2003 to 2005 served more and more of the surrounding Boulder community. In 2005, the Sharons opened Lucky’s Café adjacent to the store to serve comfort food using locally sourced ingredients. In 2012, they added Lucky’s Bakehouse and Creamery next door to offer cakes, homemade ice cream and pastries.

In 2013, the Sharons secured investment and began to open additional stores and now are in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Florida and Georgia. In 2016, they engaged in a strategic partnership with the Kroger Co., which invested in the company to accelerate the company’s growth in new and existing markets.

“Lucky’s is the only grocery store that is run by two passionate chefs, and we think this shows when people walk in our doors,” Bo said.

The Sharons designed the Lucky’s stores to feel welcoming and accessible. Each store averages approximately 30,000 square feet with a layout resembling an indoor farmers market with bins, barrels and wooden crates displaying products. There is the typical grocery department with natural, organic and brand name items, plus raw, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, along with personal and pet care supplies. Then there is the bakery, dairy, meat and seafood, produce, bulk, and beer, wine and spirits departments. Other departments include local products from nearby vendors, the company’s private label with Lucky’s L in red and the kitchen, a fancy word for the deli. The deli is where things are made from scratch in-house, such as the house-roasted and smoked meats sliced to order, fresh-crafted sandwiches, items for the full-service chef’s case and fresh-squeezed juices.

“We empower each of our store directors to make day-to-day business decisions that are in the best interest of the local communities they serve,” Bo said.

Bo and Trish want to expand Lucky’s even further, while keeping that local touch, Bo said.

“We have a strategic plan to continue to grow, open new stores and bring more good food to more people in the years to come,” Bo said.

Lucky’s opened seven stores this year and has 20 signed leases for new store locations.

“Lucky’s has always been about more than just food; we are about good food, community, giving back, family and having fun,” Bo said. “Food had captured my heart, but I always had a pull to serve others and give back.”

Lucky’s operates a community impact program focused on supporting healthy communities and youth education. Every quarter, each of the company’s stores partners with a local nonprofit to donate 10 percent of sales on a given day to the organization, plus Lucky’s provides other giving programs. The company supports its community impact initiatives with the 10% For Good program, where 10 percent of purchases of Lucky’s private label products are reinvested into the communities where the stores are located.

“Last but not least, each Lucky’s team member is also paid for 32 hours each year for providing community service,” Bo said. “We are deeply ingrained in our communities and always will be.”

BOULDER — When the founders of Lucky’s Market started out, they knew they wanted to stock the shelves with good, healthy food they would love to eat and serve.

Chefs Bo and Trish Sharon bought a small grocery store in Boulder that they soon expanded into the Lucky’s Market chain of natural food stores with 39 stores in 10 states. 

“We knew we wanted to stock the shelves with better food — food that we would want to eat, food that we would want to serve to our families, friends and children,” said Bo, CEO of…

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