Two investors have store in the bag for revamping
The founders of Boulder’s Alfalfa’s Market have sold the natural grocer to two Denver-based investors who plan to revamp the Boulder location and expand across the Front Range.
Mark Retzloff and Barney Feinblum sold their majority shares in the company to Mark Homlish, vice president of property management firm Lincoln Property Company, and William “Tripp” Wall, vice president of wealth management company Alliance Bernstein.
Financial terms of the private deal, including price and amount of shares sold, were not disclosed.
Founded in 1979 as Pearl Street Market, Alfalfa’s was an early natural and organic grocery.
Growth forced it to move to 1651 Broadway in 1983, bringing along a name change. By 1996, it had grown to 11 locations and was acquired by Boulder’s Wild Oats, only to be divested when Whole Foods purchased Wild Oats in 2007.
Retzloff and Feinblum bought the Broadway store and restarted Alfalfa’s in 2011.
A second Alfalfa’s opened in Louisville, at 785 E. South Boulder Road, in 2014.
Both men have been looking for investors for months, a spokesperson said.
Feinblum plans to retire, while Retzloff wants to focus on other ventures.
“We are pleased with the transition to a new majority shareholder and believe this local, Denver-based investment group is the right investor to help Alfalfa’s move forward,” Feinblum said in an emailed statement.
Retzloff did not respond to requests for comment.
Both founders remain minority shareholders, a company official said.
Frank Hagan, a shareholder in the original Alfalfa’s and the revamp, said Feinblum and Retzloff had brought too much debt into the company and sold their shares for “10 cents on the dollar.”
“They dug a deep hole,” he said. While the original operation was “lean,” the redo was geared up for more stores, including a corporate staff of dozens, Hagan said.
The Boulder store underperformed expectations, and more money was needed from investors to open the Louisville location, and it, too, failed to deliver enough revenue to repay the debt.
Evan Kamlet, a checker at Alfalfa’s Market, 1651 Broadway in Boulder, searches for Joy Larkin’s keys in her grocery bag as her 2-year-old son, Trey, looks on. The keys were accidentally covered with groceries during checkout.