Construction workers are busy inside the former JC Penney space in the Wilton Mall, where a 35,000-square-foot Healthy Living Market and Cafe will open in early 2013.
The market, which specializes in local, organic and natural groceries, is part of a family-owned business based in South Burlington, Vt.
The new business will hire about 140 full- and part-time employees.
The company, owned by Katy Lesser, her son Eli Lesser-Goldsmith, and daughter Nina Lesser-Goldsmith, held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the new market and cafe.
The Healthy Living Market in Burlington has been in business for 30 years, expanding to 33,000 square-feet over the years. The market describes itself as “Vermont’s largest and best independently owned natural foods market.”
Eli Lesser-Goldsmith said earlier this year he is excited about moving into the former JC Penney space and renovating it. The market will be buying produce from farms in Saratoga and Washington counties and products from local bakeries and orchards.
“We are using an existing building,” he said. “We are recycling the space.”
JC Penney built a large addition to the mall some years ago and moved into that space, leaving its original space in the mall empty. The old JC Penney space currently includes a Planet Fitness gym that has been open since May. The new market will fill out the rest of the large mall space.
Steve Shaffer, mall manager, said Wednesday the mall is pleased to have the new tenant from Vermont.
“We think they will do a tremendous business here,” he said.
“We took a long time to find the ideal place for our second location,” Katy Lesser, a founder of the business, said in a statement. “The energy and spirit I see in Saratoga Springs matches the kind of environment we love to support: a community that’s passionate about a certain quality of life where good food and agriculture play important roles.”
The market in the Wilton Mall will include a cafe for dining in or takeout. The menu will feature vegetarian options.
The market will also feature a learning center that will offer cooking demonstrations, hands-on cooking classes and community lectures that focus on wellness, the company said.
Lyndsay Meilleur will be general manager of the new market. The date of the store opening has not been set, but it will be within the first two months of 2013, according to a company spokeswoman.
The market will also offer a broad selection of microbrew beers and wines. The store will have a “Divine Wine” section that will be separated from the market proper and have its own entrance, according to business officials.
“From the beginning, the company forged relationships with local farmers and has focused on Vermont agriculture, working with farmers to bring products to market,” said a company statement.