22 February 2012

Whole Foods Excitement Tempered by Concerns about Logistics, Fit

Over the last couple of weeks, I have had the opportunity to sit in on a few neighborly conversations about supermarkets.  Either the anticipated opening of Wegmans in the Sieling Industrial Park or the actual opening Family Market in the Long Reach Village Center sparked most of the conversation.  I found it interesting that the conversation was not about the basics (milk, bread, toilet paper), but about the niche items that either store stocked.  It certainly drove home the point that I am a Velveeta man living in a foodie world.

These conversations ultimately narrowed down to two words: Whole Foods.  I have to say, it seems everyone I know is a big fan of Whole Foods.  However, when I tell them that Whole Foods might move into the Howard Hughes headquarters building (aka the Rouse Building), I am met with quizzical looks.  After a little more discussion, it became apparent that there is a certain “hooray” element to a Whole Foods coming to town.  Simultaneously, the questions start coming:

Downtown lakefront property is a premium site, why would you put a supermarket on the lake?

If this is true, will Whole Foods shut down/alter hours for the Festival of the Arts, Columbia Fair (when it happens), and 4th of July?

One person asked me about loading docks (an interesting take, for sure), I said that I believe the Rouse Building has a loading dock on its lower level, next to the lake.  The concept of regular truck traffic adjacent to the lakefront path did not set well with folks.

Others were concerned with traffic.  This complaint was closely related to the Wegmans discussion, in that people wonder why are these stores are located so far away from where people live and that all but a few will have to drive to either Wegmans or Whole Foods.  With respect to Whole Foods, a few even sited the satirical YouTube video:

So if Whole Foods is approaching reality, it would be in its best interest to start answering some of these questions.  There are a lot of real fans here, but they need to know more, and soon.


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