Whole Foods has officially leased the space Borders previously occupied in the Davis Commons shopping center in Downtown Davis.
“Whole Foods Market took over the 20,000 square foot Borders location,” said Jennifer Marples, Whole Foods Northern California media contact in an e-mail. “The current plans are to be open by the end of 2012.”
Mark Friedman, president of Fulcrum Property that built and owns Davis Commons, said a lot of retailers were watching Borders’ bankruptcy and were looking at taking over Borders locations. He said when Borders went bankrupt and decided not to reorganize and reopen, he was contacted by several people interested in the site, Whole Foods being one.
“I knew Borders was weak and it was clear 18 months ago that online and digital book sales were ultimately spelling the demise of many physical bookstores,” he said.
Whole Foods is currently designing the store, a process that takes at least six months.
“They like to build features that are unique to the specific market they are operating,” Friedman said. “Whole Foods is gathering information about Davis and figuring out what will fit best for the store.”
Friedman said he believes the store will serve the same purposes the bookstore did by taking advantage of the grassy area and patio front. He said it was an important consideration in his conversations with Whole Foods.
Some are worried Whole Foods will eventually put other grocery stores that also sell organic food, such as the Davis Food Co-op, out of business. The Davis Food Co-op says otherwise.
“We welcome them to Davis and welcome the challenge,” said Eric Stromberg, general manager of the Davis Food Co-op in an e-mail. “New competition is bound to impact our business, but as a local cooperative with a 40-year history of serving our members in Davis and throughout the region, we are confident that shoppers will continue to look to us to serve their needs for quality, local food and a shopping experience you just can’t get anywhere else.”
Friedman agreed to have Whole Foods replace the Borders site for one main reason.
“I think Whole Foods is one of the most effective and successful retailers in the country,” he said. “In my opinion, they have done more to bring values of organic and local source agriculture to the general public than any other retailer in the country. For that reason, they are a very good fit.”
In other news, Ben & Jerry’s in the Davis Commons will close when its lease is terminated in February.
“We don’t intend to renew Ben & Jerry’s since they’re not doing enough volume to justify a lease renewal,” Friedman said. “We’ll put something else there.”
Friedman said on a daily basis, traffic will be more or less the same. He said people buy groceries more often than they buy books, so he expects people to come back more frequently.
“We want to create a place where people can feel comfortable and relaxed,” Friedman said.
CLAIRE TAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.