Davis is set to welcome Whole Foods Market to Davis Commons next week, with the store’s grand opening on Oct. 24. Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza and the store’s management will take part in an inaugural bread-baking ceremony at 9:45 a.m.
With Davis’ long tradition of small retailers and local sourcing, Whole Foods has pledged to offer a range of food and other items acquired from vendors less than 100 miles from the city. Marketing and communications team leader Kristen Tantarelli has also been keen to highlight the $18.3 billion chain’s efforts to integrate itself into the local community.
“Whole Foods may be a large chain, but although it’s the same name everywhere, each one is a neighborhood grocery store,” Tantarelli said. “We look to do a lot of great stuff for local nonprofit organizations, including our Nickels for Non-Profit, where customers who bring their own bags receive a five-cent credit which they can donate to our selected nonprofit. From opening until January, we’re associated with Friends of UC Davis Arboretum.”
Despite Davis’ long history of resistance to large chain stores, the opening of the grocery giant on the former Borders premises has been well-received by the city’s residents, according to Tantarelli.
“We’ve had a positive response from the community,” Tantarelli said.
Tantarelli suggested that Whole Foods would add to customers’ choices rather than take business away from local suppliers such as the Davis Food Co-op.
Tarin Varughese, a Davis resident and Co-op customer, agreed that increased choice for residents would be a good thing.
“I’m excited that [Whole Foods] is opening, as they have a lot of good gluten-free brands,” she said. “The people who come [to the Co-op] are very loyal.”
Kyle Lockhart, another Co-op customer, echoed her opinion.
“I think the Co-op has done some research on other towns which have had the big stores move in,” Lockhart said. “The people who shop here are very loyal and if feels very personal. I don’t think they’ll lose business.”
Varughese added that she did not believe that the introduction of Trader Joe’s last year had had a detrimental effect on the Co-op’s business.
“People were still coming here, I think they [the Co-op] put money in and expanded,” Varughese said.
One area of concern for students has been the expected prices in the new store.
“I’ll check the store out, but it will probably be too expensive. It’s nice to have the choice, though,” said James Lee, a third-year economics major.
Tantarelli responded to these concerns by noting that there will be a series of promotions offered from opening, including a $2 discount on the salad and hot bar from 7 to 9 a.m.
“We are committed to using only quality, natural ingredients [in our products],” she said.
She added that the firm supports Proposition 37, which would enforce the labeling of genetically modified goods, and is an active partner in the Non-GMO Project.
Tantarelli also stressed the opportunities for Davis students and members of the wider community as a result of the opening.
“We have hired a hundred local people for opening, and there will be numerous more openings throughout the year through the careers section of our website,” Tantarelli said.
MATT COSTELLO can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.