Whole Foods opens at development

Posted 6/15/09

The much touted Streets at Southglenn became just a little bit more real to many shoppers on June 15 when Whole Foods Market opened at the burgeoning …

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Whole Foods opens at development


The much touted Streets at Southglenn became just a little bit more real to many shoppers on June 15 when Whole Foods Market opened at the burgeoning $310 million development at the intersection of University Boulevard and Arapahoe Road.

For months, the leading natural and organic grocer had been among the most anticipated of confirmed retailers at Streets at Southglenn, a mixed-use cluster still under construction on the site of the former Southglenn Mall.

“People are equating the opening of Streets at Southglenn with the opening of the store,” said Ben Friedman, Whole Foods’ regional marketing coordinator. “There’s some pressure that comes with that, but there’s also a lot of pride that comes with that.”

Whole Foods is the first new anchor store to open in the heart of the “new urban” complex. It is the chain’s first new Colorado store in more than three years. The opening comes as the grocer tries to sell 32 of its Wild Oats stores. The attempted sale is part of a deal with the Federal Trade Commission related to an anti-trust challenge to Whole Foods’ purchase of Boulder-based Wild Oats.

Although the retailer’s new location has its own parking area, the 58,000-square foot store is also well integrated into the Streets at Southglenn with side doors and an outdoor café opening onto the Commons, the main arterial within the pedestrian-friendly streetscape.

The Centennial location is the 19th in Colorado for the Austin, Texas-based chain called “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” by Health magazine. The natural-foods grocer has more than 275 stores in the United States, Canada and England.

According to the company, the new store represents the latest in Whole Foods’ corporate thinking. Health education and so-called “theater” related to food preparation are integrated throughout the store’s departments.

“It’s important that people know their food doesn’t come from the grocery store and to give people a greater understanding as to the process it takes for your food to come from the field, farm or ocean to your table,” Friedman said.

Signs labelled “Your Health Starts Here” and “The Whole Story” offer nuggets of information about the store’s products, philosophies and policies, including not carrying food made with antibiotics, growth hormones and even artificial sweeteners.

“You won’t see artificial colors, additives or ingredients in anything that we sell anywhere,” said Rob Megahan, vice president of design and development. “You also won’t find hydrogenated oils in our store.”

While perusing the grocer’s seafood department, for example, one cannot help but learn about what potentially sets Whole Foods’ salmon apart from what may be purchased at a more traditional grocery store.

“A lot of people don’t know that there’s a process out there where you inject carbon monoxide into fish and it turns bright red,” Friedman said. “You can take that same piece of fish, throw it in the trunk of your car for a year and it’ll still be red. It might not taste the same and it might smell a little bit different. But it’ll look the same.”

According to the company, Whole Foods only works with specialized providers that meet the firm’s exacting standards relating to health, the environment and humane treatment of animals.

For example, all of the grocer’s beef comes from free-range, grass-fed cows. The store even boasts of what it claims is “cruelty-free” veal, according to meat coordinator David Rudlinger.

“These are young animals that are 6 to 9 months of age that have been raised on the pasture their entire life. They’re still with their mothers. They eat grass and their mothers’ milk,” he said.

In the case of seafood, Whole Foods owns two seafood processing centers in Seattle and Boston and says it keeps close tabs on its providers’ catch methods.

“We actually in some cases know the boat our fish is coming off of and the captain of the boat,” Megahan said.

Whole Foods also carries a broad range of vegetarian and vegan foods. The store’s Whole Body department offers an assortment of dietary supplements, books and other products, as well as consumer counseling to help guide shoppers through their lifestyle choices.

“Let’s say you want to lose weight. Someone on staff will be able to talk to you,” Megahan said. “Let’s say you need a little more energy. Let’s say you’re preparing for a triathlon. We want to meet you where you are in your life stage.”

Whole Foods emphasizes its environmental building philosophies through such features as high-efficiency coolers and lighting, waterless urinals and electric-car plug-ins in the parking lot.

Magahan is particularly proud of the store’s produce bins made of Colorado beetle-kill pine.

“This wood was actually going to waste,” he said. “We’re trying to take a real tragedy that’s happened in a lot of these areas and turn it into a win-win.”

The store’s “team members” are particularly excited about being the first new retailer to open in the heart of Streets at Southglenn.

“This is a very important project for the City of Centennial,” team leader Rob Plutt said. “We’ll be a big anchor for the shopping complex.”

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