Farmin’ to open local foods store on Front Street

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Fresh baked items like these Danishes will be among the items offered up at the new downtown Farmin' grocery store. Courtesy photo.
Fresh baked items like these Danishes will be among the items offered up at the new downtown Farmin’ grocery store. Courtesy photo.

A new locally sourced grocery store is setting up shop in downtown Wilmington.

Farmin’ announced today that it would open Farmin’ on Front, a scaled-down retail version of its larger Emerson Street campus, this summer. The approximately 6,000-square-foot store will be located at 143 N. Front St., the building across from the U.S. Post Office that currently houses the Second Time Around vintage clothing boutique.

It’s a first for the Port City’s downtown landscape, which has a seasonal farmer’s market but currently lacks a year-round, brick and mortar business to buy produce, meats and baked goods, along with the everyday staples like toilet paper and toothpaste.

And it’s exactly why the company picked that location as its flagship site, marketing director Randall Heath said. Since opening its first store as Carolina Farmin’ on Market Street in 2013–that location has since closed–Heath said Farmin’ has been busy building up its infrastructure at its 25,000-square-foot home base at 4102 Emerson St.

Farmin' will move into Second Time Around, a longtime downtown vintage shop that closed Saturday to relocate midtown. Photo by Hilary Snow.
Farmin’ will move into Second Time Around, a longtime downtown vintage shop that closed Saturday to relocate midtown. Photo by Hilary Snow.

The Farmin’ brand now encompasses its wholesale division, which sells an array of local products to area restaurants, country clubs, catering companies, grocery outlets and farm stands, as well as an onsite bakery, gelato company Capital Creamery and Prospect Farms in Supply.

Branching out with more “intimate” retail shops has been part of the company’s long-term plan, Heath said.

“We have been actively pursuing where our next location is going to be,” he said. “The more we looked, the more it seemed that it should naturally be downtown. There is obviously a lot of buzz about downtown not having a grocery store…so more and more it just seemed like a natural fit.”

It’s certainly good news for downtown resident and business owner Lauren Cardwell, founder and CEO of Social Media Strategy Group.

“This is huge for downtown residents,” she said. “One of the perks of living downtown is walk-ability, so I am stoked to be able to walk or ride my bike to pick up fresh produce, meats, whatever I need during the week. The fact that it’s locally sourced is even better.”

Farmin’ president Ben Long said his company traveled the country to study similar “urban food markets” to create a local store that “rivals comparative markets of Charleston and Savannah.”

In addition to produce, Farmin' carries a large selection of locally sourced seafood and other meats. Courtesy photo.
In addition to produce, Farmin’ carries a large selection of locally sourced seafood and other meats. Courtesy photo.

And the Front Street shop is just the beginning of a series of “satellite stores” Farmin’ hopes to add across the county, Heath added. While no definite plans are in place, Farmin’ has scouted potential spots in Monkey Junction, the Hampstead area, near Wrightsville Beach and in Brunswick County.

“We want [Farmin’ on Front] to be something that shines a light on what we’re trying to accomplish,” he noted. “Everything will be produced at the Farmin’ campus and distributed out to retail stores. That way, you will always be getting the same textures and tastes you are accustomed to.”

In addition to its selection of onsite creations and local foods, Heath said Farmin’ will have an “extensive line” of beer and wine from area craft brewers and vintners. The company is still sorting out its vendor list, he said, but shoppers can “count on seeing local brewery offerings at Farmin’ on Front.”

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.