(Photo and logo from Earth Fare website; graphic made with Adobe Spark)

Asheville, N.C.-based Earth Fare is closing the 50 organic and natural grocery stores it operates and seeking a sale.

The retailer had been working in recent years to expand and to improve the customer experience, but the efforts came up short, according to a news release.

“While many of these initiatives improved the business, continued challenges in the retail industry impeded the company’s progress as well as its ability to refinance its debt,” Earth Fare wrote in the release. “As a result, Earth Fare is not in a financial position to continue to operate on a go-forward basis. As such, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to commence inventory liquidation sales while we continue to engage in a process to find potential suitors for our stores.”

The news comes less than two weeks after another organics-focused grocer, Niwot, Colo.-based Lucky’s Market, announced it would close 32 of its 39 locations. A few days later, Lucky’s filed for bankruptcy. It is looking to sell its closing stores and its new distribution center in Orlando, Fla. Publix and Aldi are among the bidders for some of the store locations.

Lucky’s Market had 21 locations in Florida, 20 of which are planned to close. Earth Fare had 14 stores in Florida, according to the company’s website. Both cited the overall retail environment as among the challenges that factored into the decisions to close stores.

New York-based Fairway Market, which has 14 stores, also recently filed for bankruptcy and agreed to sell five stores and its distribution center to Village Super Market.

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