Whole Foods Market ready to show off in Detroit

Grocer in Midtown set to open June 5

By Lauren Podell - Reporter

DETROIT - The countdown is on for the grand opening of the Whole Foods Market in Detroit -- one of the most anticipated business openings in the city in years.

"This was a vision I had years ago," said store manager, Larry Austin. "I wanted our stores in cities like Chicago and Detroit, and seeing this all come to life is a dream."

The market's local ties are hard to miss: Motown Records light up the cash register aisles, local produce from across the state, even café tables made from the hoods of old cars.

When you walk into the market you'll be greeted by the classic sign, "Say nice things about Detroit."

"When shoppers come here, we wanted this to feel like an extension of the city," said Austin.

The new Whole Foods sits at Mack and Woodward Avenue. It's set to open its doors on June 5.

Construction on its 20,000-square-foot building began last August. Not only will the store have a "Detroit" feel but it will be full of Detroit employees.

Whole Foods Market has hired 91 employees for the location in Midtown and 70 percent of the workers are from of the city of Detroit.

"How can we not hire the same people we are asking to support us?" Austin said. "The decision to bring in Detroit employees was a no-brainer and let me tell you the vibe is electric. Detroiters are excited."

Whole Foods representatives went out in the community and asked residents what they wanted. One of the concerns: parking.

Austin said people expected meter parking, but that's not the case. There is an 86 space open lot in front of the store that is completely free and an additional 60 spaces in a parking structure next door that costs $5 for the day, but tickets will be validated by the market.

The market is also using the Detroit location to help break the "Whole Foods, whole paycheck" stigma by making the prices at the Midtown store more competitive and affordable for the people who will be shopping here. In fact, there will already be sales and mark downs during the grand opening.

Whole Foods in Detroit also has a liquor license. You'll not only be able to buy beer and wine at the market, but you'll be able to drink it at the store ... while you're shopping! 

"Something we hope the residents take advantage of is our community room," said Austin.

The community room is just an elevator ride up to the second floor, where shoppers can take cooking classes, wellness classes even bring clubs or friends there to eat and drink (remember they have a liquor license!).

The market also has a prepared food section, complete with a chef, fresh salad bar every day, handmade pizzas and a café to eat it all at.

"This is more than a just a place to grocery shop, this is place the community can grow from and we want to be a positive aspect in the city," said Austin. 

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