Near East Side gets a new natural-foods grocery

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From left to right, family members Jeremy Kinnard, Kindred Market General Manager Riley Kinnard, Kristi Kinnard, Valerie Kinnard and Tim Kinnard. They’re seen here posing in front of the soon-to-open grocery store on East State Street in Athens. Photo by Conor Morris.


Something Athens hasn’t seen in many years – a new grocery store opening on the Near East Side – appears to be on the near horizon.

A local family plans to open an independent, full-service natural and organic foods grocery store on East State Street this spring. The market will go into the former location of Premiere Video at 284 E. State St.

The store’s general manager Riley Kinnard confirmed Tuesday that Kindred Market will offer a variety of products and services, including a full assortment of grocery store goods with a focus on natural and organic products, a café, and a lot of foods and other products available in bulk. The store could open as soon as late April, she said, though she cautioned that there’s still a lot of work left to do to get the store up and running.

Kindred Market, when it opens, will double the number of natural-food grocery outlets operating on the Near East Side. Operating since 1971, The Farmacy, on Stimson Avenue, describes itself as “a small, family-owned, independent, but full-service, natural-foods grocery store.”

About the new Kindred Market, Kinnard said she wants the store to focus on local and regional products, as much as possible. “Eventually, it’d be great to have a 50/50 mix,” she said (of local/regional and non-local products).

Kinnard said that the idea for the store was born partly out of her time spent working at a natural foods co-op in California.

“Everybody that came there, we were all sharing ideas, all trying to inspire each other to make positive changes in their health and in their lives,” she said. “It really reminded me of Athens.”

So, when she returned to Athens, she and her family began informal conversations about bringing a similar concept to Athens.

And it truly is a family affair, Kinnard said, with everyone pitching in to help her get the store open. Her mother, Valerie Kinnard, the owner/president of Career Connections in the building next door, has brought her business “acumen” to bear on the new store concept. Riley Kinnard’s sister, Kristi Kinnard, the general manager of Career Connections, has been helping recruit and screen applicants to work at the store. Her father, Tim Kinnard, has been helping with the build-out of the store. And her brother, Jeremy Kinnard, has been helping with the technology side of the business, as well as a heavy amount of product research.

“So, everyone has their pieces and parts of the puzzle,” Riley Kinnard said.

In terms of products, she said that Kindred Market will focus on selling products that “Kroger doesn’t carry,” akin to products that people would see at a health foods store in a big city. There also will be a frozen section with lots of local meat, Riley Kinnard said.

Also featured – a grab-and-go case with salads, soups and sandwiches; four taps devoted to local beers for people to fill up growlers, in addition to several taps for kombucha; a small café with some seating and espresso and coffee offered; and a “reverse-osmosis alkinalized” water machine for people to fill up jugs with.

The store also will feature a pretty extensive bulk section, Riley Kinnard said, so people can fill up their own containers with a variety of products.

“We have food but we’ll also have a… liquid bulk section so that’s like, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, honey, maple syrup,” she said.

Bulk cleaning and other products such as shampoo, laundry detergent and glass cleaner also will be on offer.

Riley Kinnard added that the store will be “very focused” on trying to be as zero-waste and plastic-free as possible, with all of the bags used for produce and bulk foods being compostable.

She said she and her family are excited for the store to open after months of planning and construction work.

“Being able to bring a health food or natural food grocery store that’s sort of a community center to Athens is really like a dream come true for me and my family,” Riley Kinnard added.