Christensen: It's a party in the aisles at Lucky's Market

Sip craft brews and shop for cheap organic groceries at Lucky's Market in Plantation and Coral Springs.

I love grocery stores, but not everyone feels that way.

Doing the weekly marketing can be a chore and a bore, but Lucky's Market changes that.

It's impossible not to love this hip natural and organic chain, which opened its second South Florida location at 7700 Peters Road in Plantation on Wednesday.

You can even party in the aisles. Lucky's has a fun, festive vibe, and encourages customers to sip craft brews or wine while strolling around the store jamming to live or classic rock music. Think of it as a cross between a brewery, farmer's market, and the best of several grocery chains packed into one interesting 45,000-square-foot store.

It has four craft brews on tap – Oakland Park's Funky Buddha Floridian among them – for $2 a pint, along with a nice selection of wines for $3 a glass. Stop by the cafe to grab a glass, clip the special cup holder onto your cart and you're ready to roll.

The growing chain has seven stores in Florida (it ambitiously opened a Neptune Beach location on Wednesday, too), and 22 nationally. The smaller Coral Springs store at 9200 Wiles Road opened in March.

East-siders rejoice: The chain plans open a store in the vacant Pearl Art & Craft building at 1033 E. Oakland Park Blvd. to compliment Oakland Park's culinary arts district, according to city records. Stores in Melbourne, Sarasota and St. Petersburg are set to open next year.

Lucky's stocks its own brands of products and wines (like Trader Joe's and Aldi), about 50 percent of them organic with a large selection of prepared foods (like Whole Foods). It cures and smokes its own meats (like Penn Dutch Food Centers), selling bacon, deli, meats and sausages free of antibiotics, growth hormones and nitrates. It also has bulk nuts, candy, coffee and other foods in self-serve bins (like The Fresh Market).

Arrive hungry. There are samples galore.

Prices are insanely cheap. This week, Haas avocados are 3 for $1. Eggs are 79 cents. Red mangoes are 19 cents. Lobster tails are two for $9.98. Organic broccoli is 98 cents a pound. Ground beef is $1.99 a pound.

"We believe everybody deserves access to good, healthful good," says CEO Bo Sharon. "At Lucky's we lower the price point. We sell affordable, cheap, organic and natural foods every single day."

Sharon founded the chain with this wife, Trish, in 2003. The couple met in culinary school and have a deep-rooted passion for good, affordable food.

At the packed grand opening on Wednesday, the Sharons presided over a bacon-cutting ceremony and presented $10,000 to several local charities. The store created 150 jobs.

"We think shopping for groceries should be fun, so beer," says Ben Friedland, vice president of marketing. "Customers get their jam on to the music and literally dance down the aisles."

The idea to sell locally sourced craft beers is genius.

"I'm no genius. I just like to drink," jokes Sharon, 37, with a playful grin capping a youthful tangle of curly blond hair. "It takes the edge off."

Like Whole Foods, which used to occupy the building before moving south on University Drive, Lucky's sells locally sourced foods. But it kicks the idea up a notch by inviting South Florida artisanal vendors into stores so customers learn about and sample their gourmet creations. Lucky's also stocks their goods on store shelves, too.

Stop in at the tasting fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and try some insanely delicious Gelato Petrini, made by Jim Cohen in Delray Beach. Or try Carla's True South, a line of barbeque sauces manufactured by Coral Springs mom Carla McAuliffe. She sings in stores on weekends while putting some south in your mouth. Wash it all down with a brew.

Like me, you're going to love Lucky's.

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