- Whole Foods Market may test a new full-service store concept in Fairfax, Virginia, the Washington Business Journal reported. The city's economic development director, citing the project's developers, told the Journal that the store is one of two locations Whole Foods has planned featuring the new concept — the other located on the West Coast. An opening date for the Fairfax location has not been set.
- The retailer is reportedly planning to open a 30,000-square-foot store at Point 50, formerly Fairfax Shopping Center.
- In November 2016, Whole Foods announced it would open a Whole Foods 365 store at the location, which was the brand's smaller and more affordable concept. But in January, the company announced that it was no longer moving forward with the format.
Whole Foods declined to comment to the Journal, and details are scarce on what the company might be cooking up. But some of Whole Foods' recent store openings suggest that it is testing out formats that are focused on the in-store experience over slashing prices.
The chain recently opened a flagship store in Atlanta featuring a rooftop bar complete with games, a food truck and an old-world style butcher. It also opened a 2,500-square-foot Daily Shop format in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City with pantry staples and grab-and-go items, and added new in-store eateries at store locations in California and Florida.
Whole Foods has refocused on its core values of local, fresh and gourmet at sites that were originally slated to become 365 stores. One such location opened last week in Kenwood, Ohio offering more than 200 cheese varieties, a hot bar with Detroit-style pan pizza and "hundreds" of local selections in categories ranging from produce to frozen foods. Another would-be 365 store that recently opened in Weehawken, New Jersey boasted an outpost from an upscale Brooklyn coffee chain.
Whole Foods scrapped its 365 concept early this year, citing the narrowing price gap between the format and its traditional stores thanks to price cuts and Amazon Prime discounts. Existing 365 stores are being rebranded to regular Whole Foods Market stores by the end of this year. At the time of the announcement, only nine 365 stores had opened.
Although the 365 concept didn't pan out, innovations pioneered under the sub-brand like "Friends of 365" local restaurant partnerships are being folded into Whole Foods' broader strategy. The smaller box size could also point to a way forward for Whole Foods. Amazon has pushed ahead with pint-sized Go stores, while competing grocery chains from Meijer to Giant are building out small stores focused on convenience and fresh assortments.
Back in March, The Wall Street Journal reported Amazon's plans to open new grocery chain, with the first location set to open as early as the end of this year.