Though there are many natural food stores throughout Sarasota County, few have as rich a history as Richard’s Foodporium. In 1979 Richard Downey opened his first Richard’s Whole Foods in Sarasota, a store which still stands on the corner of Ringling and Tuttle. His outgoing personality and casual air made anyone coming into the store feel comfortable.
One employee recalled vividly the day he was hired by Richard. His rather informal interview took place in Richard’s car with Richard in a pair of shorts, a shirt stained from a long day’s work and an old hat on his head. He was quite a character and his customers loved him, as did his employees. That employee remains with the company to this day.
Richard’s vision was to provide quality natural and specialty foods and supplements at fair prices, and he worked hard over the years building that dream. By the date of Richard’s death he had expanded to six local stores. Not wanting to see Richard’s dream die with him, his widow sold the chain of stores to John Rorer and two partners in 1997.
John and his partners shared Richard’s passion for making healthy food affordable to the masses and worked hard to expand the six stores to eleven by 2004, employing more than 70 local residents. By 2005 the business was booming and John became the sole owner of the company.
In the years to follow John completely revamped Richard’s, giving the stores a much needed face lift and creating the branding that carries through to today. At the end of this restructuring period in 2009 John, renamed the company Richard’s Foodporium and became the first natural and specialty foods retail franchiser in the nation. Since that time Richard’s Foodporium has grown to 17 stores in five different counties, though the corporate offices still remain in Sarasota.
Richard’s carries a wide variety of foods including organic and natural bulk foods, a large selection of gluten-free foods, nutritional supplements, snacks, organic wines and much more, all at affordable prices. Each store has a slightly different selection since the company allows 10% of the store’s stocks to be selected based on local tastes.
So if you have been in one Richard’s, you haven’t seen them all. They will also special order products that they don’t stock for no additional charge. And if their excellent customer service doesn’t win you over, their prices will.
To find a Richard’s Foodporium location near you, go to www.richardsfoodporium.com. While visiting the site you can sign up for their newsletter, exclusive email offers and see what their monthly specials are. Shopping at Richard’s is a great way to shop local for natural, healthy foods at a fair price.