Customers line up for Sprouts market opening

More than 100 shoppers woke up early or altered their morning routines to be on hand for the grand opening of the Sprouts Farmers Market in La Cañada Flintridge Wednesday.

The opening came two years after the announcement that the former Sport Chalet Sportland building at 920 Foothill Blvd. was going to be replaced by a Henry's supermarket. A year later, Henry's merged with Sprouts, an Arizona-based chain, delaying plans for the new store.

Sprouts operates more than 100 stores in California, Arizona and Colorado, and has stores in Pasadena and Burbank. The chain focuses on fresh produce and bulk foods placed in barrels. The La Cañada store is spacious and brightly lit, with deli, bakery, produce, bulk foods and coffee sections.

On Wednesday morning workers offered pastries and coffee to customers there for the 7 a.m. opening. The first 300 customers received a reusable shopping bag and coupons for 10 free deli sandwiches.

Store Manager Phil Martini, who has opened four stores in the chain, said La Cañada's anticipation about the new market was evident as opening day drew near.

“Before we opened, we'd go out to lunch in our Sprouts shirts, and we felt kind of like celebrities, with people greeting us and asking us when we were going to open,” he said.

The store is across the street from La Cañada Town Center, on a stretch of Foothill Boulevard where local business leaders are seeking to increase foot traffic.

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