Last year, Native Sun Natural Foods Market closed all three of their locations after 23 years in business.

Now, after months of preparation, Native Sun is ready to reopen their Jacksonville Beach location next week.

Owner and founder Aaron Gottlieb confirmed Tuesday that Native Sun – located at 1585 3rd Street North – will officially reopen on Wednesday, Feb. 12. He also confirmed that the other two locations will remain closed, and that the properties are listed for sale.

“We are excited about this, we are ready – the team is ready,” Gottlieb said. “It’s a little different than opening up a new store and turning things on for the first time.”

While Native Sun will offer many of the same services it previously offered, some things will change as well. Instead of reopening Native Sun’s deli, they’ll instead be pivoting to having an in-store restaurant – something that’s inspired by the store’s previous hot bar. Gottlieb added that a grab-and-go area, along with a full-service salad and soup bar, are other changes to their past model.

“We really right-sized our food service; there are favorites that wills stay and there some items that we loved but just didn’t fit into the model anymore,” Gottlieb said. “We’ll have to answer to our customers but we believe it’s the right thing for our total model.”

Gottlieb initially closed Native Sun’s three locations in August last year, and he attributed the closures to an increase in specialty grocers in the market. In November, Gottlieb announced he would be reopening Native Sun, but only in Jacksonville Beach.

In the months since Native Sun closed its doors, the market has already changed dramatically. Even since the beginning of the year, Lucky’s Market announced they would be closing the vast majority of their locations and Earth Fare announced they would begin the process of liquidating their assets. However, while the market has changed, so too has Gottlieb’s outlook on the competition.

“You know, I used to pass grocery stores and think of them as competitors,” Gottlieb said. “Now I pass grocery stores and I go look at all those people competing against each other. We’re here to put a smile on people’s faces.”

He clarified that while consumers may sometimes view grocers such as Whole Foods as a competitor for Native Sun, that isn’t necessarily the case.

“I’m trying not to focus on ‘we’re reopening a grocery in a heated market.’ Instead, we’re opening up a community business that is meant to serve our marketplace and in the community that we’re in,” Gottlieb said.

For the Jacksonville Business Journal article, click here.