Wal-Mart Pricing Report: Round XXV

Sprouts History

Excerpts taken from Sprouts Farmers Market’s website

For nearly 70 years, the Boney Family has been synonymous with fresh produce, great prices and old-fashioned customer service. And today those family values are alive and well at Sprouts Farmers Market, the latest and most successful iteration of a business that began with very humble roots.

A Legacy Begins

Henry Boney was a strapping young man from the West Texas town of Kress, where he grew up poor. Like many people in the Dust Bowl era, he moved to California seeking better fortune. He arrived there in 1934 and did what he could to make ends meet, including driving an ice cream truck. Through that job, he met Jessie Grame and married her in 1943, at the age of 29.

The newlyweds then borrowed $600 from her parents to buy a pickup truck, and used that to haul some peaches down from the orchards of Julian. They opened a fruit stand at the corner of 71st and El Cajon Boulevard near La Mesa, and a tradition was born.

Henry was a food retailer, a man who, because of his earliest roots, cared deeply about making fresh foods affordable to everyone. Over the years, Henry Boney and his family would start and sell many retail businesses, including Speedee Mart (the original convenience stores, eventually sold to Southland Corporation, parent company of 7-Eleven), Boney’s, Bradshaw’s and Superama.

The second generation of Boney’s stores was opened in 1969 by Henry’s sons, Stan, Steve, and later, Scott. The name was changed to Henry’s Marketplace in 1997, in honor of the family patriarch…and that’s where things got really complicated.

The Boney family ran Henry’s until 1999, when the stores were sold to Wild Oats Markets, Inc. Stan, his son Shon, and family friends Kevin Easler and Scott Wing all worked for Wild Oats for a time, but eventually left and, to avoid the terms of a non-compete agreement that prohibited them from running stores in California, moved to Arizona to found Sprouts Farmers Market. The first store opened in Chandler, AZ, in 2002.

The Road To Reunion

In 2007, Whole Foods Market, Inc. purchased Wild Oats and sold the Henry’s stores to Smart & Final Holdings Corp., which in turn was purchased by Apollo Management, one of the world’s largest private equity firms.

In 2011, Apollo bought a controlling interest in the 63-store Sprouts, and Smart & Final sold Henry’s to Sprouts — effectively reuniting two companies that had been founded by the same family, years apart. At the time, Henry’s was operating 43 total store locations, comprised of 34 stores in California and nine stores in Texas operating under the Sun Harvest banner.

Our Garden Continues To Grow

In 2012, Sunflower Farmers Market joined Sprouts’ growing family of stores, bringing two leading grocers, together under the Sprouts Farmers Market banner.

The addition of Sunflower’s 35 stores expands Sprouts’ geographic footprint in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Oklahoma and further extends its presence in California, Arizona, Colorado and Texas.

Even though Sprouts has become one of the fastest growing retailers in the United States, and an important player in the natural foods industry, we still hang our hat on that old-time, genuine feel of a little neighborhood fruit stand that started it all.