Workers aim to reopen Outer Richmond natural foods market

Outer Richmond grocery Thom's Natural Foods closed abruptly in January, but its former staff is "plotting a comeback," according to veteran Hoodline tipster Al M.

A sign posted in the window of the shuttered market declares, "Fear not! Thom's is returning as a worker-owned co-op" to be called Thom's Cooperative, Inc. The note indicates that organizers plan to reach out to the community for help with fundraising.

"We will keep you all updated on when and where you can help," the message continues.

As of today, Al said the interior of the former store is still empty, with bare "display cases and shelves from bulk food" items.

Located at 5843 Geary Blvd. (at 23rd Avenue), the store shut down at the same time as Cole Valley's Real Foods Fresh Organics. At the time, an unnamed Thom's employee said the Outer Richmond employed approximately nine part-time employees.

Photo: Albertino M./Hoodline Tipline

Both stores, founded by Jane and Kimball Allen, were sold to Nutraceutical in 2002, along with a now-closed location in Noe Valley that shuttered when its staff was laid off in a labor dispute. To settle that claim, the company was ordered to pay workers $371,219.

Last year, Utah-based Nutraceutical was acquired by HGGC, a private equity group co-founded by former 49er Steve Young which began scaling back operations.

In mid-January, employees at both locations were given approximately 24 hours' notice that the stores would cease operations.

Both stores remained open until the bulk of their inventory was sold at discounted prices. Equipment, fixtures and furniture were also available for sale, but a Thom's worker said the closure came "after a lot of neglect."

We'll continue to follow this story as it develops.

Three cheers for tipster Al M.!

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