According to a Whole Foods spokesperson, lines for its new stores typically start forming around an hour before opening, with anywhere from 10 to 30 people waiting in line. That wasn't the case for the grand opening of its two-story, 70,000 square-foot Mid-Atlantic flagship location in Tysons, Virginia, which took place Wednesday. The line started forming around 5 a.m. for an 8 a.m. opening, with roughly 400 people waiting for the doors to open.
In addition to a line of pumpkins outside the store, guests were entertained with a DJ, helium float bubbles, complimentary coffee from local coffee supplier Cafe Kreyol and breakfast from Poppy's Stuffed Bagels.
The first 200 customers received a free tote bag and a gift card with a mystery value ranging from $5 to $100. All customers received a pamphlet with coupons and grand opening promotions like gala apples for 50 cents a pound and 30% off bath and body care. A store associate handed customers a snack pouch of Whole Foods' brand brownie bites as they walked in.
The first thing customers see as they walk in the new store is the retailer's signature Allegro full-service coffee and tea bar, along with JRINK, a full-service local juice bar.
As they walk farther back, customers will hit the retailer's food hall, which features local restaurants including Officina, an Italian restaurant that was founded by Michelin star chef Nicholas Stefanelli and serves classics like handmade beef ravioli and bucatini all'amatriciana. Other eateries include Curiosity Doughnuts, with 11 different donut varieties, and Rappahannock Oyster Co., which serves its own farm-raised oysters, crab cakes and its popular Rapp Burger. Genji Izakaya offers sushi, dumplings and ramen bowls.
Whole Foods' flagship produce department features artfully decorated displays and mounds of colorful fruits and vegetables, many of which were sliced open to show customers what they look like inside. Customers passed by munching on samples of pineapples and tangerines.
The store also features a pineapple coring machine that cores a pineapple in 20 seconds. Directions are clearly marked on the machine and an associate is nearby to assist customers. A similar orange juicing station garnered a crowd.
Other stations on the floor included a nut butter station, a kombucha station, self-service flour station and self-service beer on tap. Whole Foods allows shoppers to sip their drinks while shopping.
Straight ahead, two walls filled with hundreds of cheese varieties catches the eye. The smell of cheese wafts through the area, and a pile of cheese wheels is stacked high for decoration.
An American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional staffs the section to offer expertise or recommendations for any request or occasion. Whole Foods also hosts events at the store for its customers. A cheese board event will be held November 9 from 2 to 5 p.m., where customers can learn how to choose cheeses and pairings.
Along the adjacent wall is the bake shop, featuring everything from pull-apart Halloween cakes with monsters to traditional cakes to freshly baked bread. All are made in-house or sourced from local suppliers including MixiSquares Bakery, Whisked! and Sweet Whispers.
A plethora of prepared foods color the floor, some self-serve and some not. Customers can help themselves to pasta from Severino Pasta, an antipasto and olive bar or products from its deli.
A full-service butcher offers made-in-house sausages, freshly ground and dry-aged beef, and lamb and beef selection from local suppliers like Grayson Natural Farms. Nearby sits a full-service seafood department, where fishmongers help customers choose from locally sourced options such as sustainably bred oysters, shucked oysters, clams, crabmeat, headfish and ready-to-eat options.
As customers keep walking, a tub filled to the rim with bath bombs might attract them to the Whole Beauty aisles with beauty and body care products. These aisles were jam-packed due to the 30%-off opening day promotion on all body care products. The store even has a sink in case customers want to try the products.
The new flagship has hundreds of beer and wine selections, many of which are sourced from 30 local producers including Atlas Brew Works, Solace Brewing Company, Three Notched and Port City.
On the Mezzanine level is Whole Foods' High Point, a pub and game room which is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. The upstairs level also has self-serve options like a build-your-own taco station as well as classic pub foods like garlic knots, Detroit-style pizza and other bar favorites. Customers can choose between eight varieties of wine, 12 beers on tap or craft cocktails with ingredients from local, women-owned cocktail business Pratt Standard Cocktail Company.
Whether customers choose to sit at the bar to enjoy their food and drinks or one of the many indoor and outdoor patio tables available, there's no shortage of mounted televisions to watch sporting events. Thirty-two televisions are currently in the store, the spokesperson said.
The game room has classic arcade games like Ghostbusters, Star Wars and Pac-Man as well as shuffleboard and board games. Customers can look down to the first floor to see the crowd of customers at checkout.