Whole Foods Market, a chain of organic grocery stores, is staging a major expansion in the Valley, starting with new locations in Chandler and Scottsdale.
The retailer, which operates two stores in the Valley, will open a location at Ray and Price roads in Chandler in late September and at Scottsdale Road and Mayo Boulevard in Scottsdale in December. The Whole Foods store at Baseline and Rural Roads in Tempe will relocate to University Drive and Ash Avenue, which is the former site of Gentle Strength Cooperative. The Whole Foods at Baseline and Rural will close sometime in 2009, officials said.
Another Whole Foods operates at 10810 N. Tatum Blvd. in Paradise Valley.
Stacy Pearson, a spokeswoman for the company, said Whole Foods’ growth in the Valley will be “exponential.”
“There’s no end in site,” she said.
Officials said the chain could more than double its presence within 10 years.
The new Whole Foods Markets will be about twice as large as the current stores in Tempe and Paradise Valley, said Marci Frumkin, marketing director for the company’s Southern Pacific Region.
Frumkin said the chain is placing more emphasis on shopper convenience in its newer stores with more ready to eat meals, in-store grills on which to cook meats, seafood and vegetables, and more diverse products from around the world.
“That’s were the world is going,” she said. “People need the convenience.”
The new stores will include larger seating areas for dining than the older stores had. Customers will be able to order glasses of wine or draft beers, and shop from in-store juice bars and gelato bars among.
The Valley’s grocery industry is an extremely competitive compared to other markets, with players often entering and exiting. For example, late last year, Henry’s Farmers Market, a subsidiary of Wild Oats, pulled out of the Valley after only two years, while Britainbased Tesco announced earlier this year its intention to open several neighborhood grocery stores called Fresh & Easy throughout the Valley. More recently, the Tempe-based member-owned grocery store Gentle Strength Cooperative closed after more than 30 years in the Valley due to financial hardship among other reasons.
But Pearson said there’s room for Whole Food to grow due to the stores’ heavy focus on convenience and the increasing consumer demand for organic products.
“Consumer are willing to spend more on products that are good for their family,” she said.
Lorrie Griffith, editor of industry publication The Shelby Report, said organic foods are indeed in hot demand. But whether or not it continues is up to debate.“That’s the way people go,” she said. “Low carb (dieting) was it for a while, and now low carb is totally off the radar.”
However, increasing concerns over food safety on the heels of a major pet food recall bodes for the organics industry.“People are really concerned,” she said. “That certainly works in their favor.”
• New Whole Foods Markets:
Ray and Price roads
60,000 sq. ft.
Scottsdale Road and Mayo Boulevard
50,000 sq. ft.
University Avenue and Ash Avenue
52,8850 sq. ft.