Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Will Charlotte ever get a Whole Foods Market?

(Above, Whole Foods' original proposed rendering for store in Charlotte's Elizbaeth neighborhood)
November 2010 Update: Charlotte is scheduled to get a Whole Foods Market in 2012. Read more about it here.

Original story:

In 2004, Charlotteans who'd been long-hoping for a Whole Foods to land in Charlotte were delighted to hear that Grubb Properties' Elizabeth Avenue redevelopment project would include the area's first store, at the corner of Hawthorne Lane and Elizabeth Avenue. However, this never happened and at this point Fresh Market will occupy at least part of that space. Regardless, Charlotteans that wanted a Whole Foods weren't entirely disheartened because the chain had announced a second location in SouthPark, directly across the street from Morocroft Harris Teeter and the Morrison Earth Fare on the site of the Colony Apartments.

On last check though, both Charlotte locations have disappeared from Whole Foods' Stores in Development section. The demographics in Charlotte are definitely prime for a Whole Foods Market, especially considering if at one point the grocer wanted to put two stores in town. But the underlying issue keeps us and our readers questioning the store and wondering why there isn't one in town as there seem to be many viable locations and options for them to open a store.
(Above: Whole Foods locations across the Carolinas)

Whole Foods Market does have other store locations in North Carolina: Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill and Winston-Salem. All of these stores were previously a grocery store called Wellspring, which Whole Foods later took over. Additionally they have stores in Greenville and Mount Pleasant (Charleston) in South Carolina. It leaves us to beg the question is Whole Foods waiting to find the "perfect" location or are there greater forces at work to leave this black whole in Charlotte.

(Store photos via WholeFoods.com, Whole Foods Elizabeth Rendering via Little Architecture)

32 comments:

Steven Swain said...

The Whole Foods name has cachet. It works in a similar manner to names like Nordstrom, Costco or even Target. In fact there is a lot of cross shopping between the above nameplates. Whole Foods represents an exemplary standard of quality in natural foods, and the fact they are very selective about where they locate doesn't hurt.

Speaking further on this, Charlotte's got a lot of good real estate, but not a lot of good real estate deals. The landlords and developers seem unwilling to negotiate with certain tenants because they feel their locations are important enough that they don't have to make concessions. This leads to delays in certain retailers coming to town (cough, Saks,cough) or odd choices for what would appear to be stellar locations (like Bojangles at SouthPark)

Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

I hear there is a group trying to keep Whole Foods out of Charlotte...

Anonymous said...

I have been waiting for Whole Foods to land in Charlotte for years now. I even called the company after I saw that they deleted their Charlotte from the coming soon list. They gave me no reason as to why they changed their mind but I really hope that they will change it back. Charlotte desperately needs a Whole Foods. Earth Fare tries to be like them but a pathetic attempt in all departments. There is just no comparison. I can't stand that store but am forced to shop there until hopefully Whole Foods has mercy on us and builds one here.

Anonymous said...

JOHN MACKEY.....
STAY OUT OF CHARLOTTE.....

Anonymous said...

I really wish Whole Foods would open a store in Charlotte. Especially after all of this left wing moronic behaviour because of Mr. Mackey's personal opinions. It seems if our opinions don't mimic the Speaker of the House we will be punished too.

Come on Whole Foods - I will drive from Waxhaw to shop youur store.

Anonymous said...

I drive to either Winston-Salem or Greenville regularly just for my Whole Foods fix. How green is that? Seriously guys, open a Charlotte store.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to be coming to this discussion so late. As a WholeFoods employee, I can tell you there are two major reasons you do not have a WF in Charlotte:

1. The demographics just aren't right. WF bases its decisions on a lot more than population and income levels. The crime rate in Charlotte is a major factor. (Yes, we take crime rate very seriously.) Another factor is education levels. That's why North Raleigh will get a WF next year.

2. HT has thrown up all sorts of road blocks to keep us out of the entire Charlotte metro area, with zoning "issues" and "citizen" groups opposed to WF. If you haven't noticed, HT is trying to become more WF-like, and they don't want our competition.

Anonymous said...

It is absolutely disheartening that Whole Foods chooses not to come to Charlotte based on demographics such as crime and education -- because the demand for a Whole Foods to come to Charlotte seems higher than ever. But the saddest thing of all is the political power that HT is exercising if that is the case, then that pretty low on Harris Teeter's part. Charlotte deserves a Whole Foods.

Grocerying said...

Anon 8:52:

What I don't understand is why Whole Foods said in 2004 that "Charlotte is a great fit" etc... http://www.grubbproperties.com/news/index.cfm?newsID=4 ...these 'roadblocks' seem absurd, you have a store in Durham - isn't the crime rate higher there? Can't a city with a Neimans and Nordstrom support a Whole Foods as well?

Anonymous said...

WF employee again...

Durham has a WF because the company bought out Wellspring, which already had stores in Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill. Many Triangle residents, in fact, still call us Wellspring. Old habits die hard.

Regarding the crime rates, according to neighborhoodscout.com, the overall crime rate in Charlotte is 101.12 per 1,000 residents. Durham's is 78.39 per 1,000, the highest in the Triangle.

As for HT's behavior being low, well, that's the name of the game. HT wants to protect its home turf.

dee said...

A large population in the Charlotte area want scratch that -NEED a WholeFoods- if not Charlotte how about Belmont. There is no crime there- it is a health conscious city-(White water Olympic training center is very close and Crowers Mountain hiking is also close). Harris Teeter doesn't want to go organic or sale wholefoods- in this area- I can't even get free-range deli meat or cheese- the very basics of healthier foods. Please reconsider- PS...Property cost in Belmont is cheaper than Charlotte but you'll get all the business-Please get a store here soon!

dee said...

Please check out this site to build- the land is cleared of buildings ready for shops to come in and build- it's perfect and priced to interest you I hope:) I'm trying-lol...it's right across from Indian motor cycles and visible from 85...5 mins from white water olympics training and 5 min.s from Charlotte Douglas Airport-but just outside of Charlotte's jurisdiction so maybe less politics involved-hopefully...We need you here for better health and better living-PLEASEEEEEEE! Atleast check into it-thank you-Dee

http://www.loopnet.com/property/15698925/S-Main-St/

dee said...

I do not work for this real-estate comp. just want to get a Wholefoods in our area really bad.

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dee said...

A little more info:)

22 @ Lowell
S Main St, Lowell, NC 28098


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RICHARD said...

The unofficial version for the pullout is that Charlotte is just not progressive enough. WF prefers to locate in progressive communities or at least those that are trending that way. Charlotte, unfortunately, is considered a good decade away from that categorization.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte is still a closed city to outsiders. The "old guard" still run things and this is absolutely not the profile demographic that WF looks for when considering a location. I'm afraid until this changes (which I'm afraid will take another decade), upscale companies will be reluctant to locate here.

Anonymous said...

Whole foods has many,many gluten free items that cannot be purchased at the other "healthy/organic" stores. Everytime I visit my mom in charlottesville I stock up on items I cannot buy in Charlotte and cry my way through the checkout since I cannot buy theswe items for my duaghter with celiac disease. the gluten free baked goods selction is amazing and and the other gluten free choices are the widest I have seen.

HT is severely overpriced and I have never been partial to their selection. There are soooooooo many HT stores in south Charlotte that it is a major JOKE!!!! I hope they go under for being so greedy. A fairly priced store would welcome the competition or at least not feel threatened by a store like Whole Foods.

I pray each night that Whole Foods will come to the Charlotte area!!!!!

concern Grandmom said...

After doing a year of researching the demographics and visiting Charlotte I relocated here from the north two years ago, and I felt at that time Charlotte was a great competitive city. However, I have learned that the "Old Guard" is like the mafia, they run things in this city. The political overlords (OG's) are not considering the major problem here in Charlotte the crime rate. The taxes are high, and the promises are slack when it comes to listening to the needs of the people and meeting those needs. The crime rate here is almost as bad as Philadelphia. It seems like they're not really concerned about this problem. They (OG's) need to focus on getting rid of this crime monster, instead of stifling progress so the economy here in Charlotte can turn around. The country is in a real recession (depression) they are not concern with the needs of the people. Instead of being selfish the real estate moguls, and OG's should be schmoozing companies like Whole Foods to Charlotte. This little game HT is playing to keep the market for itself is foolish. DAH! Competition is good for a business if you really know your market! People like myself are relocating here from all over the country, with a need for a variety of quality-healthy food. My grandson was just diagnosed with food allergies it is extremely difficult to find healthy foods especially wheat free. I work preparing and serving food in a Charlotte school cafeteria, and the number of children with food allergies is high and is increasing rapidly. It is hard on the families. Their ability to locate healthy, and reasonably priced food for their children that suffer everyday with food allergies. The need for Whole Foods to locate to Charlotte is no longer a luxury, it is now an extreme necessity for the well-being of the families especially our children. So Whole Foods please reconsider, and overlook the lesser faults, and consider the greater need.

Anonymous said...

Why does it have to be in Charlotte? How about one of the smaller "suburb" areas like Matthews... there's been a vacant spot where the AC Moore and Target are located, right off 51... also a Panera and a Vitamin Shoppe there. It's been vacant for years. People need Whole Foods and I think it is a disgrace that we don't have one (especially when Charlotte wants to position itself as a green city and one that has been rated highly for healthy living)... it's as if we don't count. And I don't buy the crime rate bull... New York City has crime and they get one. Come up with a better excuse. I do believe Harris Teeter is probably trying to keep them out... hell, there's one every mile! I think that plain sucks and I continue to shop at Hillbilly's and Trader Joes, and places that don't overprice for good food. Don't penalize the people who want it.

Books said...

I live in Henrico County (outside of Richmond, VA ) and they put a Whole Foods there. It's only about 10-15 minutes out of the city of Richmond and Richmond has a high crime rate. Therefore, I don't think the reason they don't have one in Charlotte is the crime rate. And Henrico County, even in the affluent areas, has its share of home invasions, murders, and vandalism. They could put it in Matthews, Pineville, Indian Trail or another area right outside of Charlotte. I do believe that it is because of Harris Teeter wanting to keep them out. I'm originally from Charlotte, but I remember when I first came to the Richmond area, Ukrops (a huge family chain that has now been sold to Martin's) did everything it could to keep Whole Foods and Trader Joe's out of the area. Ukrops would even buy the land that Whole Foods was considering before they could make an offer. Ukrops finally lost the store wars when the patriarch of the family died and the son really didn't care about keeping others out. And Harris Teeter also tried to bid on Ukrops, but they lost out to the Giant family of grocery store chains. It's all a power struggle.

Anonymous said...

So reading through the comments I saw the one post from a Whole Foods employee who stated that reasons attributed to not being in Charlotte included crime rate and education level.

OKAY... we moved to Charlotte from Memphis - a city with one of the nation's worse crime rates and also one of the worst school systems and lowest education levels. Guess what????? Memphis has a Whole Foods.

PLEASE don't use crime and education level as an excuse.

And mentioning Harris Teeter, I don't see how in the world they could become even remotely like a Whole Foods. Their concept is completely different and always will be. Another bad excuse.

Anonymous said...

Reading the two post of the Whole Foods employee I would like to specifically reply to the comment about Harris Teeter protecting home turf.

Please answer me this... how in the world would ONE Whole Foods location jeopardize the plethora of Harris Teeter locations? In my area alone (Southpark), there are 24 Harris Teeter locations.

Please provide a more reasonable explanation of why Whole Foods has discontinued (and please note discontinued is the key word) the idea of locating in Charlotte?

Anonymous said...

There are 22 comments to this article which tells me that there are many people interested in seeing Whole Foods in Charlotte.

Here's an idea, let's go viral and bombard Whole Foods with request. They have a link on their site where you can submit a zip code that you think would be a good locale for a WF. Here's the link: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/company/contact_submit.php

Please send the link to anyone and everyone you know and have them submit a Charlotte zip.

Hey, it's worth a try isn't it?

Elena said...

CHARLOTTE RESIDENTS WANT A WHOLE FOODS!!! This is absurd that we don't have one!

Damon said...

FOUND A LINK TO REQUEST A WHOLE FOODS MARKET. MAYBE IF THEY GET ENOUGH RESPONSE THEY WILL CHANGE THEIR MINDS, MAYBE.

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/company/contact_submit.php

PLEASE SEND A REQUEST AND FORWARD TO FRIENDS I'M TIRED OF POLYSORBATE 80.

Anonymous said...

If WF comes just over the border to SC...like to Fort Mill, the crime will be lower and Charlotte residents will still be close enough and willing to go a bit out of the way. As for HT, keep fighting them...PLEASE COME!

Anonymous said...

I work for Whole Foods. A store was supposed to open in Charlotte in 2007, and another one in the Charlotte area in 2009. I relocated to North Carolina in 2006 when I heard a store was going to be opening in Charlotte, so I'm disappointed because I know how successful a Whole Foods would be in Charlotte.

The problem is, every time Whole Foods puts a bid on a building in Charlotte, Harris Teeter outbids them and leaves the building sitting empty.

As for the anti-John Mackey groups...get over it. There are MUCH bigger things in this world to worry about. Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. This country seems to only want Freedom of Speech to work on their own behalf, not for others.

Anonymous said...

Also, responding to this question:
"Please answer me this... how in the world would ONE Whole Foods location jeopardize the plethora of Harris Teeter locations? In my area alone (Southpark), there are 24 Harris Teeter locations."
I would like to know the answer to the same thing...Perhaps Harris Teeter lacks THAT much confidence in the products they sell. Whole Foods is still trying to obtain the location in Charlotte. (By the way, it has nothing to do with crime rate in Charlotte. Whole Foods knows the number of foodies and money in Charlotte greatly outweighs the "crime rate". If Whole Foods didn't open stores in cities with high crime rates, there would be no stores in Boston, New York, Atlanta, or Los Angeles.) Hopefully it will come out of nowhere like the purchase of the Asheville location just a couple of months ago.

Anonymous said...

I came upon this blog when I was searching for a Wholefoods in Charlotte. I went to medical school in Winston-Salem, am just finishing up residency in Dallas and considering moving to Charlotte soon. I was lucky to live close enough to ride my bike to Wholefoods in Winston-Salem and currently live only a few minutes drive from the Wholefoods in Dallas. But here is why I just had to post on this blog. As far as the crime rate being a factor for why Charlotte doesn’t have a Wholefoods makes me laugh. On October 18, 2010 at 7pm, I was carjacked at gunpoint in the Highland Park Wholefoods parking lot in Dallas. The crime is so frigin bad in Dallas that there is a Highland Park police vehicle parked outside at all times and there is always a police officer inside, and I mean always from morning till close, 7 days a week there is a uniformed police officer. I’ve lived in Raleigh, Durham, Winston-Salem and Charlotte. I have many friends in Charlotte and no one complains of the crime like they do in Dallas. One of my friends in Dallas has been carjacked 3, yes 3 times!! I have a feeling it has more to do with HT. C’mom….WF……Charlotte is a major urban hub with many educated people. There’s a frigin haughty taughty Dean and Duluca (sp?) for Christ sake. If Charlotte is ‘educated’ enough for Dean and Deluca, it’s certainly educated enough for a down to earth Wholefoods.

Anonymous said...

correction to my previous post - that was actually October 18th, 2009 - haha - i still have a little PTSD :)

Anonymous said...

They're coming!!! So excited

Anonymous said...

Opening in August