This week Whole Foods Market makes good on their promise to expand within their own backyard. Whole Foods Market - Hill Country Galleria will officially open to the public at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, and right on those heels, Whole Foods Market - Arbor Trails will open its doors on June 19.
Whole Foods has always been as much about the experience of healthy living (which can be fun) as they are about grocery shopping (which is, generally, not fun) and CultureMap got a sneak peek inside the new 38,000 square-foot store (about half the size of the headquarters at Lamar store), which was built from the ground up, not just wedged into an empty retail space.
Whole Foods owns 310 stores in three countries and 38 states, and yet, just two in their hometown.
It's a bit amazing to realize that, until now, Whole Foods — born in Austin back in 1980 with a 10,800 square foot store on Lamar, just blocks from the current flagship headquarters — operated only two stores in Austin. Today Whole Foods owns 310 stores in three countries and 38 states, and yet, just two in its hometown. Austin's patience has paid off in the form of a high tech, colorful food store with its own bar and the same fresh food everyone has come to expect.
The new store offers the same all-natural and organic products, but the ambiance is a bit different from the tradition brown and beige you might be used to. The minute you walk into the Hill Country Galleria location, you'll notice that the signage and color scheme throughout are much more vibrant than Whole Foods' traditional neutral palette. Efforts to create a fun and funky shopping experience are evident with the introduction of a Candy Shop and an Art-O-Mat (a refurbished non-profit supporting vending machine), plenty of outdoor space, and a beer and wine bar called "The Buzz" which is accessible without ever stepping foot in the grocery store.
The store is also among the most eco-friendly, featuring charging stations for electric vehicles, a large rainwater collection cistern, and reclaimed wood on multiple store fixtures.
The traditional Whole Foods "go local" stance goes one step further with signage that showcases local vendors, their products, and their origin.
"Buying local is in Whole Foods Market’s DNA. Bee Cave shoppers will see many familiar products on our shelves, from area vendors like Johnson’s Backyard Garden,” said Wade Taylor, store team leader. “In fact, we have a Texas Local Forager whose sole responsibility is sourcing the most delicious and innovative natural and organic products to share with our communities.”
The real winner in all this may be the city of Bee Cave. Besides the local sourcing expansion, the store created 150 jobs. About a third of those are being filled by internal Whole Foods transfers, while most of the rest live in the Bee Cave area. Two superstar local employees: Tim Cook and his wife Marilyn. You know them better as the purveyors of Buster's BBQ in Lakeway. The Cooks will be working in the prepared foods section of the store, of course.
This week five Bee Cave charities will receive proceeds from sales for the first five days of being open. "We’re also entering into a long-term partnership with the Bee Cave Library that includes not only a donation of historical Bee Cave photos that we’ve had professionally reprinted, but also the potential for future reading days and healthy eating education,” said Rachel Malish, marketing team leader at the Bee Cave store.
The store will host their traditional bread breaking ceremony on Wednesday, May 16 at 7:30 a.m. followed by a week's worth of grand opening events.