It’s open, now what?

Thank you for all the wonderful comments on my Whole Foods post. I am happy to say (well Nick may not be happy) that since it opened on Wednesday I have been twice, once on Wednesday and once this morning.

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Opening Day, these are the lines to go inside. The lines wrapped all around the side of the building. It took B and I awhile to get inside, it was hot and people were pushy. I hung out in the back and waited until the crowd thinned a bit. Though this did mean that once I got inside it was PACKED.

Bonus of waiting? I scored one of these awesome reusable bags.

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I didn’t really explore that much on Wednesday, I will say that every aisle and counter were packed. The employees were extremely helpful and took customers straight to the item they were looking for instead of telling them what aisle it was in. Great customer service already, I dig it.

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The Butcher & Seafood counters were PACKED. I ended up in front of the butcher counter and splurged on two in-house made stuffed burgers (spoiler, they were amazing).

I basically walked the perimeter and decided I would come back later in the week. However, I did grab a picture of the Antipasti bar!

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So what did I get?

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B’s applesauce pouches (impulse buy, on sale at the register), Nick’s favorite cracker assortment, Balsamic Vinegar (on sale for $3.99 for a bottle that will last me a few months, at least, score!), 2 cookies from the buy by the pound section — those were for B, he was a trooper, 1/4 watermelon — we still had some at home so I didn’t want to buy a whole one, the burgers, a bunch of asparagus, and Ben&Jerry’s for Nick and So Delicious bars for me. I ended up spending $31.91. Not bad for my haul. Some items were pricier (burgers, cut watermelon, desserts), while some were a great deal (cookies, applesauce, vinegar).

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French Onion burger, stuffed with Gruyere cheese and I roasted some asparagus.

My biggest problem with the store was parking, it took me 20 minutes to find a spot and I know it took others longer. It also took me awhile the day I had my tour, so that was a bit frustrating, but really not in the store’s control.

This morning I went back, I forgot to grab enough veggies for the entire week so I went back. I also decided to turn our left over chicken into taco’s for tonight’s dinner so I needed to get some supplies for that as well.

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I don’t really eat mushrooms, but I thought this display was awesome, I think it was great that they separated and labeled all the types of mushrooms. I bet that will be a hit, especially with those that are just starting to cook with different types of mushrooms.

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Sorry my Greek wife is showing. Tzatziki. The Whole Foods in Glastonbury, CT made theirs in house and the Whole Foods, I shopped at up here (Medford & Woburn) did not, it was a store speciality. I am so happy that Melrose will be making and carrying it. It is the best store made Tzatziki I have ever tasted.

Today, it was definitely less crowded, I found a parking spot right up front easily (thank goodness) and I was able to take my time through the store. I have to say I was really excited when I saw my favorite fish guy from Medford behind the counter at the Melrose store. Sorry, Medford, but I hope he is here to stay. He was super helpful with giving information about different cuts of the fish and giving ideas on multiple ways prepare the fish I was purchasing that day.

I also wanted to buy tortillas for taco night, I checked the aisle with canned beans, no luck, so I made my way to the bread aisle, and the woman stocking said they are kept in the produce section. She offered to show me, I said no, I figured it would be an easy find. I went back to produce and couldn’t find them, I asked another team member and he thought they were in produce, then we went to the dairy and prepared cheese aisle, also not there. Turns out they were with the hummus, the team members were extremely apologetic and helpful. It wasn’t crowded so it wasn’t a big deal to me, but it was great to know that they will make sure you get exactly what you are looking for. The team member also explained that everyone came from different stores or were new completely so it will take a few days to figure out exactly where everything is.

The look of the store is bright and colorful, very cheerful, I am so happy that this store is opened!

Have you made your way to the new Whole Foods yet?

Whole Foods Market: Melrose, MA

If you live in the Greater Boston area you probably heard about how Whole Foods acquired 6 Johnnie’s Foodmasters. I didn’t live here long enough to really get attached to Johnnie’s and I love Whole Foods, so for me it was a win.

When we moved from our condo to our house we were either going back to Medford or to Woburn to grocery shop, while I enjoyed the stores it could be a trek, especially if B was cranky. I did try shopping at our neighborhood chain but I was spending the same amount of money for products that were not as high quality.

Then I remembered that Whole Foods was coming to Melrose. Melrose is a few towns over, but in terms of mileage not very far at all. The store is located at 880 Main Street in Melrose, MA.

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Through my relationship with other area Whole Foods I was able to partake in a one-on-one tour of the new location. I want to start by thanking Heather, who is the Public Relations Manager for the North Atlantic Region, and Carrie, who is the Marketing Team Leader which is a community liaison, she handles the activities, social media, the giving back, etc…

Also, the store is opening July 24, that is tomorrow! They start with the traditional bread breaking ceremony at 9:45 am. Mayor Robert Dolan and the Store Team Leader both say a few words and they break a giant loaf of braided bread, that you can of course can sample, and then the store is open. Be a part of  the Whole Foods Market History! The community market’s version of a ribbon-cutting, the bread breaking ceremony has been held at the opening of every Whole Foods Market store in the world.

Before I give you information on the Melrose store, I want to give you some over all Whole Foods information. Some of it was new to me and I have been shopping at Whole Foods pretty exclusively for 4 years.

  • Any product can be sampled in the store. This applies to body, grocery, etc… If you come across a package of crackers that you aren’t sure about find a team member and they will let you sample the cracker. This applies to everything, cheeses, olives, etc… If you aren’t comfortable trying the item in the store, bring it home and try it, if you do not like it, bring it back. Whole Foods has a satisfaction guaranteed policy.
  • At any given time there are over 1000 items on sale, and if you follow Whole Foods Melrose on Facebook or Twitter you will notice they have Flash Sales in the stores, these sales are for things like fruit, veggies, fish, meat, etc..
  • There are over 80 items banned from Whole Foods stores, things like HFCS and aspartame to name a few. Going to our chain store trying to find a BBQ sauce without HFCS was like finding a needle in a haystack, Whole Foods definitely makes shopping a little easier.
  • Whole Foods offers more than organic items, they also offer conventional items, but those items are still high quality. To add to this, many think that Whole Foods is TOO EXPENSIVE, I know for our family I was spending the same at WF that I was spending at the nearest national grocery chain. A great example is this:

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Whole Foods EVOO is $5.99, pretty reasonable.

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If you want to try a higher end EVOO you can, for $24.99

There really is something for every budget.

Now for the tour and some information so you know what to expect when heading into Whole Foods Melrose for the first time, keep in mind some areas are still under construction and so my pictures are an accurate portrayal of what was going on before the opening.

The store is 31,000+ square feet and has 125 employees, 70% of which are Full-Time, FT for Whole Foods is 30 hours a week. They do this so that more employees are eligible for FT benefits.

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The produce department, empty at the moment, but it will soon be full of fresh fruits and veggies!

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Whole Foods has tons of signage throughout the store, like the above, that is telling you where an item comes from. All the stores have artists that create these signs, they are trained in a specific font and create these signs. Very cool!

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Check out this Bulk Bins area! This is probably the largest bulk bin area I have seen. Carrie told me that they plan on putting out booklets on how to cook the different items that you can buy in bulk. I know for me personally that I can become intimidated by a new to me item. Uh, hello Quinoa! By providing these booklets they are hoping that as consumers we can expand our cooking and even save money! This is also where you can buy your nut butters and they have 3 nut butter grinders, one plain peanut, one honey peanut, and the third is yet to be determined!

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As we move down the store we end up at the Fish Market & Butcher Shop.

All Whole Foods adhere to the MBA and BOI standards on all wild caught seafood so that customers can make informed decisions about the seafood they are purchasing.
The seafood is delivered to all the MA Whole Foods from Gloucester 6 days a week.

Now off to the Butcher Shop, it is a real butcher shop, the employees are experienced butchers, and if you don’t know how to cook a type of meat, any of the butchers would be willing to give you tips or recipes, so don’t be afraid to ask! The items (sausages, burgers, kabobs, etc…) are all made in store. The meat is labeled with the Animal Welfare Standards, 1-5, it is a way of knowing how your animal was raised before buying.

There are also freezer sections with seafood and meat, great places to pick up or stock up with items when you don’t want to go to the store!

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Next we see the Whole Body area. Heather was right on the money when she said those who work in Whole Body are some of the most passionate, their motto is “What goes on your body is just as important as what goes ON your body”. They even have swap out events, these events are free and you can swap out things like deodorants and toothbrushes for better ones from the Whole Body section.

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Here is the frozen section. They have local products, vegan products, frozen meals, etc…

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Milk, Eggs, Yogurt and Butter. All eggs are cage free and all milk is rBGH free.

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One of my favorite sections is the cheese! They have multiple kinds of cheeses, a charcuterie, and will have a pasta station. The pasta will be cut to order {edited the pasta will not be made in house, just cut in house}…and now you know where to find me on the days I am carb loading!

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You can find blocks and shredded cheeses pre-packaged!

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They also have wedges of cheese pre-cut, but if you need one smaller or larger they will cut it for you in the store.

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The empty antipasto bar!

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But again, running late to your party, grab some pre-packaged olives and be the star of the party!

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On to the bakery! Something new I learned was that even in the cakes and pastries baked at Whole Foods there are no artificial flavors or colors. If you custom order a cake with red or green frosting, they might use beets or kale to make the coloring, how cool is that?

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I’ve never seen this at a Whole Foods before, a bulk candy bin, but have no fear it is natural candy, again with no artificial flavors or colors. As a mom, I love this. Kids want candy sometimes and in moderation it is definitely okay. I would feel very comfortable letting my son get candy from here (well in a few years anyway).

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This is where you will find items that are for those who have allergies!

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The bread is made in a bakehouse in Medford, very local!

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In the prepared foods, they have a pizza area that has its own dedicated phone line, so you can call in your order, shop, pick up your pizza, pay and head home! They will also have baklava and barbari bread which is an Afghan flatbread. As well as sandwiches, Panini’s, and little crock dishes, like pot pies. The crock dishes will change based on what the chef decides to put out. Lastly, there will be the in-house made Kikka Sushi.

Of course there will be your traditional hot and cold bars. Breakfast will be on the bar from 8-10 am and then lunch & dinner options for the rest of the day.

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When you see the label “From Our Kitchens” that means the items were made in their larger kitchens in Everett, MA (again super local) and shipped to stores.

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Anytime you see the Health Starts Here sign, this is an indicator for those who are starting their healthy eating journey. These items are healthy options with no oil, minimal salt, no added sweeteners. There are also experts in the store that can help you make smart choices.

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Near one of the 7 registers there is a community calendar, you find store events as well as fun community events!

Whole Foods is also great at giving back, four times a year they have what is called “5% days” 5% of the stores daily total is given to a community charity that the Marketing Team Leader helps pick.

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On opening day, WF Melrose has picked 5 recipients to receive 1% of the day’s sales. Those recipients are: The Melrose Educational Foundation, The Mayor’s Melrose Emergency Fund, The Friends of the Aging Group, The Bingham Community Playground at the Lincoln School, and the Servant’s Heart Food Pantry. The register coupon for the first month will be for the Bingham Community Playground.

Each of these charities will have representatives on opening day at Whole Foods Melrose if you want more information.

I love that Whole Foods isn’t just about getting good food in our bodies, or products for our bodies, they are about being a part of the community in which they are located, and not just another chain grocery store.

Are you going to head down for opening day? What is your favorite thing about your local Whole Foods?