After months of speculation and more months of construction, the new Whole Foods Market at 3425 N. College Avenue opened Wednesday (March 2) with a “Breaking Bread Ceremony” at 7:30 a.m., which is the store chain’s version of a ribbon cutting.
Local officials welcomed the international grocery chain to Northwest Arkansas and its $25 million investment. Two Springdale schools were set to receive grants for their school gardens. It is the second Arkansas store among the store’s 400-plus locations.
The store has 29,323 square feet of space, including an interior café, and the bar featuring beer and wine and a covered outdoor patio seating. The store is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, offering a morning drip coffee bar until 11 a.m. and offering custom espresso drinks from 3 p.m. to close. The store employs 100 people. The starting wage is $11 an hour and the annual payroll is about $6 million. Employees also receive a 20% discount on purchases in the store. The store manager is Stuart Lane.
Allison Chilcote, marketing team leader for the Fayetteville store, said standards at the Whole Foods chain prohibit the use of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or sweeteners. Shoppers will find a cold bar, featuring organic salad fixings and other cold foods; a hot bar with hot food selections; an oven for wood-fired pizza; fresh sushi in the deli and rotisserie chicken. A special self-serve cookie case and a gleaming cake case with a marble counter features an assortment of pies and cakes.
The Taproom, featuring 16 taps of local and regional craft beers and wines, opens at 3 p.m. daily and will feature a weekly Game Night on Wednesdays with an array of board games. There’s a self-serve smokehouse bar featuring barbecue for dine-in or take-out; an olive bar and a cheese bar where shoppers can sample different varieties; meat and fish counters; an extensive bulk food sections, a floral department which will offer fresh Christmas trees during the holiday season and a Whole Foods kids center where youngsters can sample fresh fruit on any given day.
Butchers and fishmongers will custom cut, season, steam, filet or portion items upon request. A catering team is available to help pick out the perfect platter or floral arrangement or
The store offers more than 150 local items from partners such as Onyx Coffee, Crystal Lake Farms, Oh Baby, Ozark National Bread, Sweden Creek, Fayetteville Chill and many more. There are more than 400 organic items throughout the store.
Prominently featured on the walls in several areas is the GAP 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system to tell shoppers where the meat comes from and how the animal was raised. There are sustainability ratings for wild-caught and farm-raised seafood. The store also offers a line of 365 Everyday Value products, the Whole Foods store brand as well as a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables, many of which are organic.
On Wednesdays in March, five local agencies will receive 1% of the store’s net sales to the agencies selected as community partners. They are Ozark Literacy Council, opening day; Scott Family Amazeum, March 9; Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks, March 16; Life Styles, March 23; Tri Cycle Farms, March 30.
The Whole Kids Foundation and the new market will recognize Hellstern Middle School and Ozark Montessori Academy as school garden grant recipients during the Breaking Bread Ceremony.
Whole Foods Market has awarded 11 schools with garden grants across Northwest Arkansas since 2012. Created in partnership with Food Corps, the School Garden Grant program provides a $2,000 monetary grant to support an edible educational garden on the grounds of a K-12 school.