It's opening day for Whole Foods' "south region flagship" store in Atlanta. Customers can walk around the new 70,000-square-foot store and dine in one of four fast casual restaurants, enjoy a drink on the rooftop bar, venture to the old-style butcher or order made-to-cut fruit and vegetables.
Despite the grocer's growing emphasis on e-commerce since its acquisition by Amazon, Whole Foods' 500th store focuses on the in-store experience and creates a destination for consumers that bridges the gap between online and brick-and-mortar shopping.
Dining and drink options enhance in-store experience
The new store features four restaurants including Farm Burger, a southern grass-fed burger chain; Capital Commons cafe with Allegro coffee; 14th Street Bar, an outdoor eatery; and Canopy Court, which features a rooftop bar serving wine and beer as well as a food truck.
Having a "grocerant" in-store is a concept gaining traction with numerous grocers, including Kroger, Wegmans and Hy-Vee. Other grocers have also experimented with in-store bars, but Whole Foods takes the concept to the next level — literally — with its rooftop space. The new format targets a younger demographic with TVs, games, stadium seating, food truck and drinks.
Signature meats, specialty cheeses spice up shoppers' baskets
Whole Foods' new butcher shop and specialty cheese department features many locally sourced options. Specialty cheeses are gaining popularity, according to a 2018 report by the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association, with consumers often turning to in-store delis to sample new varieties.
FMI's 2019 Power of Meat report shows that meat and poultry sections of the grocery store is the most common destination for 79% of shoppers and continues to see growth.
Prepared foods target convenience-seeking consumers
With its ramen and poke selections, Whole Foods is tapping into consumer demand for a quick and unique prepared meals. The store also features build-your-own bars for lettuce wraps and avocado toast along with self-serve pizza and sushi, a sandwich station, salad bar and rotating pop-up food stations.
A strong push with local
In the flagship store, Whole Foods is taking steps to showcase its loyalty to local with products like banana pudding from Malvi Mallow, Peach Praline bars from King of Pops and specialty coffee blends from Brash Coffee Roasters. The store also features more than two dozen local wine and beer suppliers and Pure Bliss Organics granola in its bulk department.
A bigger focus on health and beauty
Health and beauty has been a growing focus for Whole Foods, and the flagship store features clean beauty products as well as health items like protein powders and vitamins.
Just last month, the retailer launched a beauty swap promotion that let customers in select cities bring in their empty beauty, body and skin care products to their local Whole Foods and exchange it for a free Whole Foods Market Beauty Bag full of clean beauty products.