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Whole Foods: First impressions


A store that few thought would ever come to Western New York is here—and the local culture has changed enough that nobody is really surprised.  The first Whole Foods Market in the area has taken over a plaza at 3139 Sheridan Drive; it contains a bar/restaurant, a prepared food kiosk, a coffee/juice bar, and the usual hot/cold food bars, as well as—oh, you know, groceries.


Here are some initial observations as the store opens to the public:


•The 50,000 square foot store has a pleasant, warmed-up industrial chic feel. It’s large, but far from bare: bursts of color in the form of beautiful pyramids of fruits and vegetables, earthy cheese and bread displays, rows of exotic beans, and fresh, packaged meals fill the store. The graphics mix cool sans serif with homey cursive accents.


•More than any other incoming chain we can remember, Whole Foods brings the Buffalo. There is a Bocce court in the front of the store. Bootleg Bucha is dispensed by the jug. Webers mustard dominates an endcap. And you can choose from twelve different taps of local brew to drink with your Ru’s pierogi in the Bar 1818.


Even these candies are custom for WF—all vegetable-based colors and natural flavors

•Organic means organic. There are no foods with high-fructose corn starch, hydrogenated fats, or artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, or preservatives. Certain companies have changed their formulas in order to have products accepted by Whole Foods.


•The food is beautiful. There are pale blue free-range eggs, deep russet heirloom tomatoes, maroon and yellow carrots, and every color of organic legume. Outside of farmers markets, we’ve not seen so many different types of heirloom produce.


•They have mochi. We did not realize what cult favorites these are. The Japanese-American ice cream treats come in beautiful pastel shades. We don’t expect that the full cooler shown here will remain that way for long.


While it would nice to see more local farm produce and meats, and city-dwellers will not love braving the madness of Sheridan Drive, once safely in the store, Whole Foods is worth the wait. It adds breadth to an already impressive array of grocery choices, including Wegmans, the two Lexington Co-ops, and an expanded Dash’s on Hertel, just to name a few. This is a competitive arena that will likely benefit local shoppers most.


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