City: Proximity to Whole Foods lured Cook’s Warehouse away from Decatur
The news that Cook’s Warehouse and Sherlock’s Wine Merchant was closing its Decatur store shocked many residents.
In its press release, Cook’s cited increased costs as a factor in its decision to move to Chamblee. Sherlock’s is moving operations to its South Buckhead store.
Decaturish asked the city, “If a high-end cookware store can’t survive in Decatur, what can?”
As it turns out, the reasons for Cook’s departure weren’t strictly about higher rents, the city says.
Assistant City Manager Lyn Menne, who oversees economic development for the city, said the move was more about the proximity to a certain major retailer.
“This isn’t a question of ‘survival’ but rather a new business model for Cook’s Warehouse to only locate stores next to a full size Whole Foods grocery store,” Menne said. “We hate to lose them because we recruited them here over 10 years ago. However we are working with the property owner to recruit a business type that would be a good fit for downtown.”
So were increased rents a factor in the decision?
“Rental rates were mentioned but when we offered to help find other location options we learned about their new business model/Whole Foods co-location requirement,” she said.
And no, the Whole Foods 365 store – discount version of the pricey grocery chain – slated for North Decatur Road and Church Street doesn’t count, Menne said.
“They made it very clear in our meetings with them that a Whole Foods 365 was not acceptable,” she said.
Cook’s Founder Mary Moore said proximity to a grocery store was a factor but said the main reason the store is leaving is economic.
“Doug and I love our downtown Decatur location and the community,” she said. “We are moving from this location solely due to economic reasons, the rent and tax rates have outpaced our business growth and it is no longer sustainable. We have both been looking for another opportunity in this market and have yet to find one. We both identified opportunities in other markets so are taking advantage of those in the interim. We are still looking for other possibilities in Decatur. While it is true that The Cook’s Warehouse locations adjacent to grocers share a mutual customer base that is not our reason for not renewing in downtown Decatur. If our Decatur store was still profitable we would be delighted to remain in a market we love.”
The press release from Cook’s does mention that the store’s new location, the Peachtree Station Shopping Center, is anchored by a Whole Foods Store.
The city of Decatur strives to support its local businesses, Mayor Patti Garrett said.
“Both the City and the Downtown Development Authority play roles in recruiting businesses,” she said. “And the Economic Development department meets regularly with business owners and property owners and works to retain businesses and uses a number of strategies and promotions to get people to eat, shop, etc. in the city. The city works hard to promote shopping at local businesses – Terrific Thursdays, Small Business Saturdays, Keep it IndieCatur promotions, Decatur Shopping/Dining Guide, etc.”
Editor’s note: After the publication of this story, the owner of Cook’s Warehouse asked to clarify her initial quote. This story has been updated to include her revised statement.