Rainbow Natural Foods closes, plans ‘Thank You, Goodbye’ day
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Rainbow Natural Foods, one of the area’s oldest organic grocery stores, has closed after 42 years.
The store’s last day was on the Jan. 26.
Tony Castaldi, 64, co-owns the business with Jim Emerson, 86. He said there will be a “Thank You, Goodbye” day on Feb. 3 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The store is located at North Decatur Plaza, 2118 N Decatur Rd, Decatur, GA, 30033.
There won’t be any sales that day, he said, but added the store is, “Baking up tons of cookies for that day, so folks can have a cookie or two or three while we thank one another.”
“Folks will be able to register for giveaways like one of our butcher block dining tables. So many folks have asked if they could have one to remember Rainbow at lunch,” he said. “There will also be a box where folks can request their two favorite recipes, which we will have to email to them later.”
He added there have been, “Tons of request for this.”
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What little inventory that remains will be given away, he said.
Castaldi and Emerson decided to retire and close the store because they couldn’t find a buyer to take it over.
He told Decaturish that there were people interested in buying the store, but he said their interest waned when faced with the cost of bringing the building up to code.
“They learned and we learned that any time a business changes [hands] in DeKalb County and it’s over 3,500 square foot retail that everything has to be brought up to the current code,” Castaldi said.
He said things like the store’s back dock and and exhaust system over its stoves would have to be improved before the company could reopen under new ownership.
Before Whole Foods and Sprouts, Rainbow Natural Foods was offering customers organic groceries, vegan food options, hard-to-find supplements, and a beloved hot bar.
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“We started as a business built to be helpful,” General Manager Laura Pallas told Creative Loafing. “We aren’t a flash in the pan. Our success is thanks to long-term people who have kept the consistency of the recipes and have a passion for healthy lifestyles.”
Castaldi said that another reason for the decision to close the business is Pallas’ retirement. He called her, “the face of Rainbow.”
“She really is the person that so many customers just love and adore, quite frankly,” he said. “It’s been so difficult for her.”
Other factors were behind the decision as well. He said when a Sprouts grocery store opened nearby, it cut into Rainbow’s business.
“Now when Sprouts opened, we saw a drop of about 10 percent, which we knew would happen,” Castaldi said.
Still, he held out the possibility that someone could buy the company from him. At least one party has expressed a sincere interest in taking it over, but nothing is finalized yet.
So it’s goodbye, for now.
Castaldi said he will always remember the store’s last day in business.
“The very last image I had … after I locked up the store: I was standing, looking all around at the space Rainbow occupied for 42 and a half years, remembering so many moments of joy, love, sadness, worry, care, anger, shock and the wonderment at what had been provided to myself and the thousands and thousands of folks who have walked through Rainbow’s doors,” Castaldi said. “Suddenly, the doors shook because a person thought we were still open. I looked. They could not see me. It was a very young child exited to get inside Rainbow. She pushed a few times. Then her mother looked closely inside and realized Rainbow was finally closed forever.
“As the mother took her child’s hand to leave as they walked down the sidewalk, her mother turned her face, clearly in the direction of Rainbow and away from her child, so that her child would not see her mother wiping away her tears. That image will be in my heart forever with all the other treasures of life experience that came along as a gift during Rainbow’s 42 years of life.”
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