Today The News Tribune reported that Whole Foods is coming to Pierce County — University Place in particular, and is projected to open March 2015.
My first reaction to this news was, “Heck yes! Finally. I never thought this would happen!” Visions of organic berries and free-range chickens danced in my head.
During the time I was in graduate school in Seattle, I frequented Whole Foods on a weekly basis. It’s a playground for food lovers, with products you’ve never heard of and an endless selection of options. I like options.
I also like a good deli. The prepared foods deli area at Whole Foods is second to none. The variety, quality and flavor of the various “bars”, be it sandwich, sushi or otherwise, salads, meats, cheeses, soups…is excellent. It makes for a quick and easy lunch, something that I’m constantly in search for.
A Whole Foods shopping trip is an experience. From presentation to customer service, all seems to be top-notch and even maybe even makes grocery shopping a little fun. Sure, I’m Whole Foods’ target demographic. I fit the profile, of a 30-something, female, educated, health-conscious professional. It’s not a shocker that I’ve shopped there and will probably continue to do so, especially if it’s close by.
Honestly, I never thought we’d get a Whole Foods in the Tacoma area. The News Tribune article sites that Whole Foods weighed their decision carefully to open up shop in University Place. I imagine they did. It’s quite a decision, since this would be the only store south of Seattle until Portland.
Initially, I’m excited to be getting a Whole Foods in our area. That said, there are a lot of thoughts and concerns running through my mind. Thinking about all of the things I’ve listed that I love about Whole Foods: Options, excellent prepared foods and an enjoyable experience, I wonder. Don’t we already have all of those things in Tacoma and Pierce County?
If I’m looking for fresh produce, I either hit the farmers markets, various produce stands in the area, Tacoma Boys, Harbor Greens or Metropolitan Market, to name a few of my favorites. For organic and free-range meats, there are butcher shops or the previously mentioned groceries. For natural foods, gluten free and allergen-free products, I hit Marlene’s, Tacoma Food Co-Op or GF Joe’s. A great deli can be found at Met Market, Harbor Greens or Stadium Thriftway.
How will these stores and markets be affected with a Whole Foods in town?
I’m not sure how to answer that.
One of Whole Foods’ brand promises is that they source locally, though I don’t exactly know how hyper-local (i.e. to this county) that gets.
Then there’s the unofficial nickname of Whole Foods, “Whole Paycheck”. It’s not cheap to shop at Whole Foods. Of course, you’re paying a premium for all those prepared foods, organic, non-GMO items. I understand that it’s not a realistic place for every individual or family to shop. There’s no way I could do all my grocery shopping there…it would deplete most of our monthly grocery budget in one shopping trip.
These are just some of the things I’m thinking about with this news. On one hand, I’m glad to hear it. I welcome a one-stop shop for all my specialty and organic foods. On the other hand, I’m not so sure it’s a good thing for our community or for my wallet.
What are your thoughts on Whole Foods coming to Pierce County?