The newest Whole Foods supermarket scheduled to debut today in northeast Phoenix isn’t the grandest version of the brand in the Valley — the Chandler store is 20 percent bigger.
But the new store aimed at attracting grocery shoppers from the northwest Valley to Scottsdale is the first in the area built with LEED certification, said marketing supervisor Julie McGough. That’s the construction method aimed at minimizing the impact on the environment.
And the new Whole Foods on the southwest corner of Mayo Boulevard and Scottsdale Road is stocked and staffed to appeal to the demographics of the shoppers within its target radius, McGough said.
So what is expected to appeal to area’s shoppers?
For one, the new store taps more local suppliers like Tonopah Rob, who produces locally grown lettuces, baby cabbages, beets, turnips and watermelon radishes, said Chris Petroulakis, Whole Foods regional produce coordinator.
And Petroulakis found French Kiss melons from a Yuma farm family, the only ones with the seeds for the extra juicy variety, he said.
Individual store staffs have the freedom to be creative, McGough said, so every Whole Foods store is different.
Quinton Eason, regional coordinator for prepared foods, came up with a new concept for the northeast store that will feature a “Taste of the Nations” menu of prepared foods seven days a week.
The expansive pasta-to-carving station line-up will include dishes featuring a different region of the world every day, so too-busy-to-cook shoppers can dine on cuisine from such exotic spots as North Africa, the Caribbean or India without turning on a stove.
Also designed by Eason for the new store is a hot food bar with a large selection of prepared foods grouped by type of meal plan, such as low cholesterol, vegetarian or vegan.
And the Scottsdale Road store has a larger selection of fine wines and specialty beers than other Whole Foods stores, McGough said.
“Beer is becoming much more reputable in the culinary world,” McGough said.
The new store is Whole Foods’ sixth Valley version. The half-dozen stores are clustered in the eastern third of the metro area with the new store the northern most location and the Chandler store the southern most location.
The company has no deals in the works for more local stores, said Michael Besancon, president of Whole Foods’ Southern Pacific region. But he’s always looking for the perfect spot to build one.
“We are opportunistic,” Besancon said. “We don’t have a master plan. We had our Tempe store (the first Arizona Whole Foods) open for six years before we opened another one.”
But even though the northeast Phoenix store is near two older ones — at Tatum and Shea boulevards in Phoenix and at Raintree Drive and Loop 101 in the Scottsdale Airpark — the company doesn’t plan to close any stores either, he said.
The Raintree store is less than three miles from the new one, but it is a conversion from a Wild Oats, and the deal for the new store location had already been signed before Whole Foods acquired Wild Oats, Besancon said.
So even though the company likely wouldn’t choose to have two stores so close, Besancon hopes both will flourish.
“We think there is room in the market for both,” he said. “This is a rapidly growing market.”