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Heard on the Street: New grocery to give out 'mystery' cards

When Rochester's new Natural Grocersstore opens its doors on Sept. 15, the first 60 customers will be given "mystery gift cards."

The Golden, Colo.-based specialty grocery chain is opening a new 14,000-square-foot store at 1507 Greenview Drive SW by Kwik Tripand TJ Maxx Plaza.

After a 7:55 a.m. ribbon cutting, Natural Grocers plans to open its doors at 8 a.m. for the public. The first 60 customers in line will be given "mystery" gift cards. When they check out, the customer will find out if their card is for $5, $10, $25, $50 or $100. The store also will be offering a tasting of food from its Paleo Wraps class.

This will be Natural Grocers first store in Minnesota. The chain has 100 stores in 17 states. The Rochester location is one of 17 Natural Grocers stores expected to open in fiscal year 2015.

Natural Grocers focuses on healthy food, carries USDA certified organic produce, meat without antibiotics or growth hormones and dairy products from "pasture-based" animals. The store doesn't carry products with artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or trans-fats. They also have "a Nutritional Health Coach" on staff to help customers with food choices.

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In an effort to promote "sustainability," Natural Grocers has "bag-free" checkouts.

The opening of the store will be the start of a series of Saturday cooking demonstrations and nutrition classes. The events are scheduled from noon to 4 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 19:Taste the Difference Food Standards Make — A Nature-Inspired Tasting Fair and Health Expo

Saturday, Sept. 26:Gluten-Free Tasting Expo and Health Fair

Saturday, Oct. 3:Active Lifestyle Health Fair

Saturday, Oct. 10:Paleo Fair: Primal Eating for Optimal Health

Natural Grocers also offers an extensive selection of vitamins and dietary supplements. The chain's website says its stores devote about 30 percent of their shelf space to vitamins, which in turn generates about 30 percent of its revenue. — Jeff Kiger

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