Harry’s Farmers Market to close after 27 years

Harrys logoLongtime Alpharetta grocery store Harry’s Farmers Market will close their Alpharetta store on Upper Hembree Road on Sunday. The closure comes after being open for nearly 27 years. The grocery store was a pioneer in many ways.

The store’s namesake is founder Harry Blazer. The jazz musician and business man first had his hand in the DeKalb Farmers Market before going solo. Alpharetta was his first Harry’s location, announced in October 1987. The concept featured exotic fruits, vegetables, meats, breads and prepared foods made from scratch in-house. The offering was vast, much more so than you’d see in the store today.

The concept was ahead of its time, especially considering the proliferation of organic grocers today. The idea took off in growing Alpharetta, bolstered by the affluent and diverse residents who moved here during that time.

Two more stores would open in Cobb and Gwinnett counties. Another store in Clayton County opened and closed, its failure attributed to the lack of affluent customers to sustain such a concept. They would also roll out a smaller concept called Harry’s in a Hurry.

Good Eats at Harrys

Alton Brown filming episodes of Good Eats at Harry’s

Blazer took the company public in 1993 selling shares on the NASDAQ exchange. But by the time the late 90′s rolled around the chain began to struggle.

Whole Foods came along in October 2001 and acquired the company. They took the three north metro Atlanta stores but not the Harry’s in a Hurry concept. The acquisition was an important one for Whole Foods who at the time only had two Atlanta-area stores. It propelled the store’s expansion into the southeast. They’d keep the Harry’s name on the stores but their offerings were decidedly Whole Foods.

In spring of 2012 Whole Foods announced they would open a store at Avalon. Shortly after Avalon’s approval the company was granted a conditional use permit from Alpharetta to operate an office and distribution facility at the Upper Hembree Road site. This blogger suggested that Harry’s would close upon Avalon’s opening but was asked to print a retraction by Whole Foods’ corporate office. At that time they said they were exploring their options with the Upper Hembree location. But the writing was on the wall.

The company will indeed close the Alpharetta Harry’s, its last day being this Sunday. They will continue to make prepared foods here for sale in other stores. It will also house their seafood and regional offices.

Many Harry’s employees will move to Whole Foods at Avalon. That store will be unique in many ways. For example, it will be the only business in Alpharetta to hold a liquor license for package sales as well as consumption on premises. This allows for wine and beer to be served in cooking classes. They also have a growler permit.

Whole Foods at Avalon will open two days after the Harry’s closure. They’ll welcome guests well ahead of the official grand opening of Avalon on October 30th.

What will you miss the most about Harry’s Farmers Market? What memories to do you have from the store?

20 Responses to “Harry’s Farmers Market to close after 27 years”

  1. Laura October 9, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    I miss Harry’s without the Whole Foods aspect. We used to get the best fruit and veggies there. I still drool over the fruit filled croissants they used to sell- flaky, tender and filled with the most flavorful fillings. I wish I could find the recipe.

  2. Greg October 9, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    The fresh pasta & pies from Harry’s are what I miss. The pies were sold in real metal pie pans stamped with the Harry’s logo & you brought the pan back for a refund. The fresh pasta offerings were tremendous & were all made in house. However, uncontrolled food costs were one of the many things that led to the original HFM’s demise.

  3. Denise October 9, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    Many memories there with our daughter. Reindeer in the parking lot at Christmas. Wonderful cheeses. Unique fruits and veggies. Fresh french bread — the loaf never made it home in one piece. Loved the old Harry’s the most, and not looking forward to navigating Whole Foods. Much better layout at Harry’s than the Whole Foods in John’s Creek.

  4. AlphaJD October 9, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    Taking our son to Harry’s this afternoon to say goodbye. He is less wistful than we are as he is super excited about the Avalon WF and he does not have the fond memories of HFM that we have from the mid-90s.

    I’ve told him we will visit the Avalon WF, but only first thing in the morning on Sundays. I expect the daily crowds will be like Thanksgiving Eve for the next few months (at least!).

  5. A October 9, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    I’m not convinced the parking situation at Avalon will be any good. Not looking forward to trying to fight for a spot to get groceries or anything else over there. Don’t think I’ll be checking out the Whole Foods or much of anything at Avalon.

  6. Nate October 9, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    Does anyone remember Harry’s first weekend only farmer’s market’s in Decatur on Scott Blvd in the Medlock shopping Center from the mid 1980′s? I can remember the throngs that would go there, parking all through the neighborhoods around the backside of the plaza. The success of the Medlock Farmer’s Market eventually inspired Harry with a partner to open what is now Dekalb Farmer’s Market. Eventually Harry split with that partner to open the Harry’s Farmer Market franchise.
    So now you know the rest of the story…

  7. C October 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    The Avalon location is doing a fundraiser sneak preview tour today and tomorrow: http://avalon.wholefoodsrsvp.com/?sf31483231=1

    I’ve missed the Harry’s of the 90′s since moving back. It just hasn’t been the same, but it was always nice to stop in.

  8. B October 10, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    Am looking forward to the new store as it will be a bit closer than Harry’s or the Johns Creek location. However, I am a bit concerned about parking and crowds as well. Will drive to JC before battling bad parking.

  9. Kay October 10, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    I enjoyed the current location (easy access for me, never too crowded). I probably won’t bother to go to WF at Avalon. The traffic in that area is already horrible and it will just get worse with the massive amount of new apartments. Can’t be bothered.

  10. Jen October 11, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

    We went today and everything was 20-30% off. It was fun to get our usual WF items at a discount. I will miss the location (it was easy for me to get to and the parking was great and the store was never too crowded). I’m sure the new location will be nice, but fear the crowds and the parking. I hope I’m wrong. Sound like people really miss the original Harry’s and it sounds like it was better than whole foods. Maybe an adventurous entrepreneur will recreate the Harry’s magic again off the beaten path. I know I would support it.

  11. Greg October 12, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    We toured the Whole Foods at Avalon on Friday & one of the things that they mentioned was that they will have even more parking in the lot adjacent to their new store than they did at Harry’s FM/WF on Upper Hembree.

    Avalon is pretty spread out – I am not sure that the WF parking lot will be that attractive to people going to visit other things there.

  12. Jen October 15, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    Greg. That’s good news about the WF parking. What’s the new store like. I’m looking forward to seeing it. I love the WF in buckhead. Hope it’s as nice.

  13. Krissy October 15, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    Just got back from Avalon today. Very disappointed! Parking was a mess and a zoo just like I thought it would be. WF got rid of many of my favorite items like the Jumble Cookies and Pataki products. Knowledge behind the counter was poor, something I have always highly valued at Harry’s WF Alpharetta. I saw only 1 employee from the old store and many new faces. Too much prepackaged plastic for my taste. I’ll find somewhere else to shop. Really missing my old Harry’s Farmer’s Market. Willing to drive up to an hour for that old excellent shopping experience. I’m so bummed!

  14. Paige October 20, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    My mother and I were shocked when we found out Harry’s was being swallowed by Whole Foods at Avalon. We’ve been going to Harry’s for as long as I can remember.. even now when I visit home from college it is a special treat to go with my mom on the weekends. So after visiting WF Avalon over the past weekend it was likely that I would feel some slight nostalgic pang but I didn’t expect to be genuinely disappointed.

    Parking was a disaster which I assume will only become worse as the store fronts and apartments fill. The flow of the store is chaotic, nothing like it was at Harry’s.. but maybe after some time it will be easier to navigate. Despite the wonderful prepared foods area we were both disappointed in the item selection in the aisles. Several of my favorite brands weren’t on the shelves and the frozen vegetables which was once a vast aisle of quick/easy meals has been condensed into 2-3 units. Much to our dismay the wine selection has also shrunken considerably.

    We have decided we will be making a trip to Marietta and just avoiding this location completely. What a bummer!

  15. Sally November 1, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    I’ll chime in with the same experience. Parking was terrible, the store aisles are narrow, the selection much smaller than Harry’s, and the seafood guy kept telling me there’s no difference between Atlantic and Norwegian salmon because they both come from the Atlantic (to explain the fact they don’t carry both, although Harry’s did and displayed them separately). Not at all comparable with the Harry’s experience. I was so disappointed. Not worth it.

  16. SC November 1, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    I am so sad to have lost our Harry’s Farmer’s Market. It was one of the things I really enjoyed about living in this neighborhood, and we shopped there several times a week.

    We tried out the new Whole Foods Market at Avalon and it was an awful experience. The parking situation alone was painful enough that I won’t be going back. On top of that the store layout is pretty challenging – narrow aisles, long lines throughout the store… no, thanks.

    Guess it will save us a bunch of $$, though… we used to spend like drunken sailors at Harry’s, because of how nice everything was and how convenient it was to shop there. WF certainly doesn’t offer that experience so I guess we will be sticking to shopping at Publix.

  17. AG November 17, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    I shopped at Harry’s the first weekend it was open and never missed a quick stop for something special. During the holidays Harry would play the drums in a jazz quartet for the customers. It was a very special place and will be missed.

  18. holly April 20, 2015 at 12:20 am #

    I used to shop here with my grandma when I was younger. I always loved running around this place it was like a maze of,food to me and it was so wonderful I always loved coming here, for me to,just find this out makes the fact of her passing away last year really hard, she lived in Roswell for as long as I can remember until summer of 2011 when she moved to Colorado. This place was the last bit of her memory that I felt was still here in Georgia it’s sad that this place is gone guess I can’t take my husband to this little part of my past.

  19. Mollie June 24, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    lived in McDonough and was so excited when Harry’s move to the south side. However that was short lived but we started making the trip back up north to the Steve Reynolds location. I miss the croissants and the coffee choices and one of my all time favorite honeys was available there. Can’t find it anywhere now. I have to have it shipped from Australia. Harry’s just was a wonderful wonderful experience and I loved Atlanta for it. however like someone else expressed my budget will be much better off without Harrys!!!

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