Sunflower Farmers Market

Sunflower Farmers Market
Founded 2002
Headquarters Boulder, CO, U.S. and Phoenix, AZ, U.S.
Number of locations
Area served
Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah
Key people
Chris Sherrell, President & CEO[1]Press Release
Products Food, natural food, organic food, frozen foods, grocery items, private-label items, natural living,[2] bath and body care items, vitamins and supplements

Sunflower Farmers Market was an American chain of full-service grocery stores headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, which emphasized value-priced natural and organic products. Sunflower opened its first store in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2002. In June 2013, Sunflower Farmers Market was operating 38 grocery stores located in eight Southwestern states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Oklahoma[3] and Texas (where it formerly operated as Newflower Farmers Market). In June 2012, Sunflower merged with Sprouts Farmers Markets.


Libby Cook, founder of Sunflower Farmers Market, had been involved in the natural and organic food business for 25 years. She was President and CEO from 2002-2005. In 2006 Mike Gilliland became CEO. He, along with Cook co-founded Wild Oats Markets[3][4] and together grew the company from a single store in Boulder, Colorado to a billion-dollar publicly traded enterprise with 115 stores throughout the US and Canada.[5]

In 2002, Cook founded Sunflower Farmers Market, which operates natural foods supermarkets throughout the southwestern United States; she served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer.[3] until 2006. In 2007, KMCP Advisors invested $30 million in Convertible Preferred Stock. The Company used the proceeds to fund the opening of new stores. The managers of KMCP Advisors, Timothy Kelleher and Douglas Meltzer, are also the founders of Silver Canyon Group, a private equity firm focused on growth equity based in San Diego, CA. In February 2011, Gilliland resigned[1] after being arrested on felony charges; Chris Sherrell, Sunflower's president at the time, was subsequently named acting CEO.[1] He was appointed permanent CEO three months later.[6] Under the leadership of Sherrel and KMCP Advisors, the Company continued to flourish.


In March 2012, Sunflower Farmers Market mergered with Sprouts Farmers Market.[7] Tim Kelleher of KMCP Advisors continued his Board role in Sprouts.


Sunflower Farmers Market aims to develop the value segment of the natural and organic foods retailing industry.[8] Sunflower’s motto is “Serious Food…Silly Prices.” Sunflower offers produce, meat, fish, bulk foods and coffee, deli foods, natural bath and body care items, vitamins and supplements[4] and, in some locations, beer and wine.

Sunflower Farmers Market endeavors to keep prices low by keeping their overhead low, foregoing certain light fixtures and high rents.[9] Sunflower also buys big, purchasing almost everything by the pallet or truckload, and sourcing directly,[9][10] and paying vendors quickly. They don’t charge vendors “slotting allowances” or shelf-space fees, and they negotiate on prices.[11]

Green Initiatives

Awards and recognition


  1. 1 2 3 "Chris Sherrell Named Acting Chief Executive Officer of Sunflower Farmers Markets, Following Resignation by Michael C. Gilliland as Chairman and CEO". February 12, 2011. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  2. Gentry, Connie; Field, Katherine; Wilson, Marianne. “40 Under 40.” 31 Dec. 2008. Chain Store Age.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Tarnowski, Joseph. “Sunflower Farmers Market to Open First Oklahoma Location,” 18 April 2011. Progressive Grocer.
  4. 1 2 Fox Business News
  5. Lammers, Lesley. “Sunflower Farmers Market to Expand in California.” 20 Dec. 2010. Triple Pundit.
  6. "Acting CEO Takes Helm at Sunflower Farmers Market." Chain Store Age. 9 May 2011.
  7. "Sprouts acquires Sunflower Farmers Market". March 9, 2012. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  8. Wild Man Still Challenging Whole Foods. CNN Money.” 27 Dec. 2007.
  9. 1 2 “Food for Thought.” Chain Store Age. 3 Nov. 2010.
  10. “Q & A with Mike Gilliland.” 5 Jan. 2009.
  11. 1 2 Sprot, Lindsey. “A Blooming Market.” May 2010. Shopping Center Business.
  12. 1 2 Wild Man Still Challenging Whole Foods. CNN Money.” 27 De. 2007.
  13. Sport, Lindsey. “A Blooming Market.” May 2010. Shopping Center Business.
  14. Tucson Weekly. Sep. 2010.
  15. “Sunflower Market wins 'Hot Retailers' award.” 28 May 2010. New Mexico Business Weekly.
  16. Best of Burque 2010.
  17. Boulder Weekly.
  18. Colorado Springs Independent. 21 Oct. 2010.
  19. Colorado Daily. 31 March 2010.
  20. Grocery Headquarters. 1 June 2010.
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