Greenlife co-founder to open new indie grocery in South Asheville, Katuah Market

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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UPDATE: Katuah Market opened on Wedesday and Ashvegas contributor Jennifer Saylor was there to check it out. See the photos below and get over to check it out yourself. Congratulations to John Swann and his Katuah Market team! Here’s a link to the full photo set for Katuah.


ORIGINAL POST Feb. 2, 2013: Looks like John Swann‘s Katuah Market is set to open in late summer 2013 next to Ichiban in Biltmore Village.

Swann, a co-founder of the original, independent Greenlife in Asheville (bought by Whole Foods in 2010), is a board member at ASAP (former president, currently vice president), a consultant at Blue Ridge Food Ventures, and was a manager and investor in Earth Fare and Greenlife.

Months ago I heard from local entrepreneur Sara Day Evans that Swann had plans for a new independently owned, local-focused, natural-foods grocery.


Katuah Market?: 2 Hendersonville Road, South Asheville

According to Swann (via Evans on Facebook), he’s ready to begin work on his new South Asheville venture at 2 Hendersonville Road, next to Ichiban in Biltmore Station.

From Evans, who seems to be quoting Swann:

IT’S TRUE! For those of you who have heard rumors that we were going to open another natural food grocery store in Asheville…it’s true! After two years searching for a suitable site, we are very pleased to announce that we have secured a lease for KATUAH MARKET ™ in the Biltmore Village area in south Asheville! The location is at 2 Hendersonville Rd., in the old Interiors Marketplace space in the Biltmore Station commercial development adjoining the Japanese restaurant; Ichiban. Now all we have to do is build it! Look for the opening sometime late this summer! Once again, Asheville will have a LOCALLY-OWNED, LOCALLY-MANAGED, COMMUNITY-BASED independent natural food grocery store (with all due respect to our friends at the French Broad Food Co-op, of course)! We are KATUAH MARKET – “LOCAL BY NATURE” ™!

From Swann in his comment below:

First, those who know me know that I was devastated by the sale of Greenlife to Whole Foods. I tried in every way I could to block that sale, but was unable to do so because I did not control the company…I left both Earth Fare and Greenlife when they were acquired by large corporate interests because those organizations do not support my values, which are manifested in small locally-owned businesses that provide valuable services and products to their community.

“Katuah” is the Cherokee word for the Southeastern Appalachian region. You know we’ll have more as this develops.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Suki August 17, 2014

    Hi John: It is Suki (from Boone). Now living in Floyd Va…operating an organic farm. Growing lots of good food and also have orchards. Would love to catch up with you and perhaps you would be interested in some of my organic fruits and vegetables for your new venture.
    Congrats on your venture. I think you found your niche.
    P.S. Still owned by an Akita

  2. Olwen Searles March 11, 2014

    John: Sounds like you have a wonderful store. We will be moving into the area this year and are used to Wegmans in upstate NY. This sounds like it might very well be in the same genre. Maybe you’ll need a seasoned worker, who knows?

    Good luck.

  3. FDR December 20, 2013

    By the way there is a back entrance to that center with a traffic light. Easier and safer, but not recommended for lazy folk/haters.

  4. Jason Bugg December 20, 2013

    Man, white people appropriating Native American names to sell some version of “natural” to upper middle class white people is tired. Yay colonialism!

  5. FDR December 20, 2013

    Would these folks be happier if it was a large chain store? Nope, they are never happy unless the pay is $20 an hour and give away product for free. LOL

  6. Julie White November 27, 2013

    I might be late in commenting, but I HATE this location…so hard to get out of. It should be further down HVL Road. As much as I would like to spend some $$ in this store, won’t ever stop.

  7. Megan April 25, 2013

    Hey John! I’m interested in employment at the Katiah Market. I know you said you would begin hiring in mid-summer but what’s the best way to keep up with your new store and employment information?

  8. Bill April 25, 2013

    Mr. Swann:
    I recommend you call John Bennett (828) 284-3421 to buy the best local grass fed beef, lamb, goat and pork to be found in our area. John sells to many of the local restaurants and is at the Farmers Market on Wedsdays at the French Broad Co-Op. Call him for free samples. I hope you can carry his meats in your new store when it opens. I have yet to find anyone with better meats than he carries.
    All his meats are staples at our house!

    Bill M.

  9. John Swann February 28, 2013

    Thanks to all for your kind words of encouragement for Katuah Market. If all goes according to plan, we hope to open in August, and will begin hiring sometime in the middle of the summer. We will begin buying stock for the store shortly before we open. Stay tuned for further updates as our project develops!

  10. Joseph RiverWind February 14, 2013

    Mr. Swann,

    Many blessings in your new endeavor! I have sent you a private message via Linked about our all natural, vegan certified Native American skin care line that we manufacture in Cherokee County. We believe it would be a perfect fit for the new store. I look forward to hearing from you and am eagerly awaiting for news about your grand opening.

    Joseph RiverWind
    President-Native Touch

  11. Jeff February 4, 2013

    John Swann is a class act who knows his way around the farms of these mountains. Good stuff is going to happen! I also like the name Katuah Market.

  12. Valerie Patton February 3, 2013

    I will be there on opening day. Thank you for your passion.

  13. John Swann February 3, 2013

    To clear up a few misunderstandings in the comments to this blog, I would like to make the following points: First, those who know me know that I was devastated by the sale of Greenlife to Whole Foods. I tried in every way I could to block that sale, but was unable to do so because I did not control the company.
    My motivation in opening Katuah Market is to serve our community by promoting local and natural foods, as I have done for the past twenty years as a Board Member at ASAP (former President, currently Vice-President), as a consultant and mentor at Blue Ridge Food Ventures, and as a manager and investor in both Earth Fare and Greenlife. And yes, I also need to make a living.
    I left both Earth Fare and Greenlife when they were acquired by large corporate interests because those organizations do not support my values, which are manifested in small locally-owned businesses that provide valuable services and products to their community. I have no interest in selling Katuah Market to anyone that does not share our vision for the company and are local and/or our employees.
    Katuah Market will pay our employees the highest wages that are economically sustainable, given that we are in a VERY competitive market. We will have a profit sharing plan in effect the day we open our doors, as well as offer a competitive employee benefit package. We would love to be Living Wage certified, but please note that none of the other grocery stores in our area are Living Wage certified, and to remain in business we are constrained by that fact.
    I would like to personally express my deep gratitude to the Asheville community for all of their support in the past, and am very excited at the opportunity to serve this wonderful community again with Katuah Market!

    1. Mike Edwards February 3, 2013

      Can’t wait for Katuah! Thanks John Swann.

    2. Jeff February 4, 2013

      You were the one that helped me launch my business and never lost interest even know it took several months for our product line to take off. I know the story the whole story and nothing but the truth and you are as real as it gets. Look forward to working with you again.
      Sclafani Foods.

      1. John Swann February 4, 2013

        Thanks Jeff! You were a big help to us as we were trying to pull Greenlife together, and were a good supplier to us when we opened. I look forward to working with you again as well. Cheers!

    3. LD February 18, 2013

      Mr. Swann,

      I’ve been following the Katuah Market articles in the area papers and feel strongly in reaching out to congratulate and support you and the local farm & food communities.

      I wish to support you in your endeavors of expertise, passion, enthusiasm and abundant successes with community in the local & sustainable movement and lifestyle, by sharing in the vision and mission of Katuah Market.

      As this is my Katuah; it will be my privilege to be involved with Katuah Market. How and when may I apply for employment? Most sincerely, LD.

    4. Custis Covington October 24, 2013

      I’m very excited about the Katuah Market opening. I worked for Greenlife in the bakery when you first opened. I would love the opportunity to work again for your establishment, as I am in agreement with helping the local community. Hope to hear from you. All success to you and your new venture.

  14. Vintagefrench February 2, 2013

    Oh shucks, why can’t he put this grocery store on Merrimon Avenue? Shoe horn it in between the Trader Joes and Harris Teeter?

  15. Mike February 2, 2013

    Great, maybe he will open this place, make it successful, pay his new employees less than a living wage, and sell it to a mega-corporation, again keeping all of the profits for himself and the founders, while giving nothing to those who helped him get there like he did with Greenlife (which is no longer locally owned or operated of course, so he should stop patting himself on the back).

  16. Orbit DVD February 2, 2013

    No non-compete clause with Whole Foods?

    1. Nate February 2, 2013

      I took a class where Swann was a guest speaker a little over a year ago, and I think he either said or implied that there was a non-compete clause but that it had a limited term that was coming to an end. I could be mis-remembering, though . . .

    2. John Swann February 3, 2013

      For the record – no, I did not have a non-compete agreement when Greenlife was sold to Whole Foods.

  17. grover February 2, 2013

    Fast forward five years and they’ve been sold to whole foods.

  18. Mystify February 2, 2013

    More local food outlets is never a bad thing. Swann walks the talk. 🙂

  19. Lisa February 2, 2013

    fantastic! great news for people of kenilworth, to have a close and local grocery!

  20. Mike Edwards February 2, 2013

    Great news! The original idea Mr. Swann and the other founders of Greenlife had has been destroyed by the Whole Foods purchase. Quality at Greenlife continues to decline and no one cares. In four short years, I have gone from shopping there almost daily to now rarely.

    I agree with the comment of Michelle Smith above, but French Broad simply cannot serve as a one-stop due to size and other factors. French Broad and Katuah can co-exist and hopefully that the Greenlife customers who have left will make damn sure that happens. Hopefully the reverbs will be felt at corporate in Texas. 🙂

  21. Michelle Smith February 2, 2013

    This is very cool and all but actually we do already have one “LOCALLY OWNED, LOCALLY-MANAGED, COMMUNITY BASED independent natural foods grocery store. It’s called the French Broad Food Coop. Been in business for 30 years or so. I’m not sayin’….I’m just sayin’.

    1. Dave February 4, 2013



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