It’s an exciting time for Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, based in Lakewood, Colo., according to Alan Lewis, director of special projects and organic compliance.

“We’re opening almost a store a month right now,” he said.

That’s a rate they’ve sustained for more than a year.

The Overland Park, Kan., location, which opened April 24, will be the company’s 54th store, according to Lewis.

Other recent store opening include locations in Lincoln, Neb., and Boise, Idaho, with an upcoming location in Billings, Mont.

The store openings are typically celebrated with giveaways, samples and other treats for visitors during the first week, as well as a special preview opening for local leaders and business owners to introduce them to the company and the store.

Only organic

The company provides natural and organic products to consumers, with a produce department that only offers certified organic products.

They source locally whenever possible.

“No conventional produce is allowed in the building, so customers know exactly what they are getting,” he said.

The produce department is a driving force for the entire store, so the company is careful to provide the best possible products, according to Lewis.

“It drives sales, drives visits and drives first impression,” he said.

The company’s expansion efforts are largely self-funded, Lewis said.

“We’re still a family-owned company, and we have a base of 40-plus mature stores so we have the human resources, infrastructure and cash to open new stores without much stress on the company,” he said.

Lewis says the company expects this growth trend to keep going because the market is underserved.

“There’s far more demand for organic than there is supply. There’s a reason we can open an all-organic department and have it do well right away,” Lewis said.

“I think people are still waiting for the trend to go away and I just don’t think it will.”