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Thursday, August 2, 2012

With Whole Foods size matters

   When I heard that Whole Foods had finally decided to locate in Columbia my first question was "What size store would we have?"  Like most of us I have never understood their reluctance to locate in Columbia.  Aren't we an obvious community for this type of store?  I remember that years ago the Rouse Company was supposedly trying to get Whole Foods to locate in space when the old Hechinger's store moved from the Dobbin Center.
    With Whole Foods one size doesn't fit all.  I was introduced to Whole Foods on a visit with my daughter in Austin, Texas.  This was before they had started to go national.  The Lamar Street store is the signature store at 80,000 square feet.  I was blown away by the store.  The food court is 3 times the size of the one at our Wegman's.  They had a brick oven pizza station at the store that was one of the best pizzas I have ever had.
      Needless to say I have had mixed experiences with other Whole Food stores that I have visited since my visit to the Austin store. At 45,000 sq ft the Columbia store will be a medium size store. If they were building a new store rather than remodeling the Rouse Building I am sure we would be getting a larger store.  The following is a list of the Whole Foods stores that I have visited with the store size listed and a quick comment on each:
1) Fairfax-65,000 sq ft -great store with large selections, this is easily the size that Columbia could support.
2) Annapolis--56,000 sq ft--best store in our area
3) Baltimore Fleet Street-25,000 sq ft-small store about the size of Trader Joes
4) Tucson-17,000 sq ft-soon to be rebuilt at twice the size- very disappointing selection.  The Tucson Whole Foods is across the street from the shopping center where Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot.  We visited this store 3 days before she was shot and when I saw the pictures of the shooting on TV I recognized immediately the Safeway that was across the street.

     To get a better sense of what our Whole Foods might look like I visited the Annapolis store. At ll,000 sq ft larger I am not sure what we will miss. I also wanted to see anything different than Wegman's. The picture above shows an impression produce section.
Nice seafood section but Wegman's still has more selections.
Something you see right away is that you will pay considerably more for organic but $7.00 for a small jar of peanut butter?
Or $14.00 for a pound of coffee?
Nice bakery but not much different from Wegmans.
Nicer food court than Wegman's with healthier choices.
Food vendors offered a nice sample of choices.
A food that I feel I can expertly judge is pizza.  I give this an A- because of the cheese and fresh toppings.  Crust keep it from an A+. Only a wood fired pizza gives a great crust.  I rate Wegman's pizza as a B-

Overall a grade of A for freshness of products and organic selection and C for price.  I would probably go to a Whole Foods for items I couldn't get elsewhere and some organic produce but not for staples.


American Association of University Women Networking Event

Monday, September 17, 2012
Union Jack’s Pub
10400 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, MD
5:00pm – 7:00pm
Appetizers and Non-alcoholic drinks served
$15 per person to register
Cash Bar
Networking and Socializing
Sale on AAUW Memberships
Bring your business cards and brochures

Preregistration required by 9/12, contact Jennifer Ingram 410-740-4276 or

P.S. 1

1 comment:

nicole said...

I buy that brand of peanut butter, at Mom's and David's. It is my favorite kind of organic peanut butter as it is no stir and tastes great. I'm not sure what the price of it is off the top of my head, but I'm sure it's not $7. I think it might be somewhere in the $5 neighborhood at our local natural markets.