Second Place: Whole Foods Market
Third Place: Ellwood Thompson's Natural Food Market
There's something a little different about Kroger, which now has 16 stores in the Richmond market. The Cincinnati-based grocery chain is known for building in areas that other retailers won't touch. Late last year, Kroger opened its biggest store in the Richmond area — a 123,000-square-foot Marketplace — in eastern Midlothian, at the site of the former Cloverleaf Mall, anchoring a mixed-use residential development. It's also building another Marketplace store, which carries things as varied as groceries, furniture and home décor, at Staples Mill and Hungary Spring roads in Henrico. These are areas in need of economic reinvestment, and Kroger has taken risks that other retailers won't. No, it isn't saving the world. But how many retailers would be willing to build their biggest store on the site of mall that died years ago, in the middle of a retail wasteland? Whole Foods Market is now firmly entrenched as the go-to upscale grocery store, and Ellwood Thompson's — the only locally owned store in the bunch — continues to hold on in Carytown despite the recent arrival of the Fresh Market just up the street.