Thursday, October 14, 2010

Whole Foods Market's Two Newest California Stores, Santa Rosa and Just-Opened Huntington Beach, Are at Shopping Malls

Southern Califoria Market Region report: New Store Openings

The Whole Foods Market store (pictured above) that opened its doors yesterday in Huntington Beach, (Southern) California is the second new Whole Foods unit to open in a three week period that's at a shopping mall location.

The 30,000 square-foot store is located at the Bella Terra Mall, at Edinger and Beach Boulevards in Huntington Beach. It's Whole Foods Market's 300th store. Whole Foods, which has annual sales of about $8 billion, has stores in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.

On September 22, Whole Foods Market opened its newest and second store in Santa Rosa, in Northern California. That store, like the Huntington Beach market opened yesterday, is at a shopping mall location - 390 Coddingtown Mall. [See - September 21, 2010: A Look Inside Whole Foods Market's Newest Store, A Mall Location in Santa Rosa, California and September 19, 2010 Whole Foods Market Gives Itself A 30th Birthday Present: 299th Store Opens This Week in Santa Rosa, California.]

Like the Coddington Mall Whole Foods store, the Huntington Beach market has a facade and entrance facing the parking lot outside the main shopping mall. Shoppers are also able to enter the store from inside the Bella Terra Mall.

Shopping mall locations aren't a tradition for Whole Foods Market. In fact, it's only something the grocer started pursuing recently.

Whole Foods isn't alone in this regard. After flirting with shopping mall-based locations in the 1980's, most U.S. grocery chains have avoided the spots like the plague ever since.

However, a number of grocers besides Whole Foods are looking at shopping malls once again as secondary locations, in large part because the recession and commercial real estate crisis has made mall operators hungry for retailers that can bring in foot-traffic. Enter grocery stores. As a result, many mall operators are offer grocers locations for far less dollars per-square-foot than ever before in recent history. An example is hard-discount grocery chain Aldi USA, which plans to open a number of stores in shopping mall locations this year and next.

We don't see shopping malls becoming a magnet for grocery stores. However, locations like the two California malls where Whole Foods has opened the stores, where there's both stand-alone and in-mall access, can make very good sense for grocer's to explore.

Whole Foods' new store in Huntington Beach also shows off the grocer's keen ability to localize its units, building on its decentralized operations structure and culture.

Huntington Beach, including the neighborhood surrounding the Terra Bella Mall Whole Foods Market store, has a substantial Vietnamese population and community. Additionally, Huntington Beach, which is know as "Surf City USA," has a surfing culture - and is filled with surfers.

Whole Foods' has taken these demographic and cultural characteristics of the city and incorporated them into its new 30,000 square-foot store.

For example, the store, which features a massive fresh-prepared foods selection and an eat-in area, is offering what it's calling "Local Flavors," which are selections of ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat Vietnamese cuisine such as Sesame Peanut Cold Noodle Salad, Sweet and Spicy and Tamarind and Pho soups, Vietnamese Skirt Steak and Spicy Lemon Tamarind Tofu entrees, Vietnamese-inspired pizza and many more similar prepared foods items.

There's also a full selection of stir fry sets of pre-cut strips of pork, lamb, chicken and beef paired with vegetables, for easy cooking at home.

The items are as much (or more so) Vietnamese-inspired, meaning geared for all ethnic groups but offered as part of the localization of the store in celebration of the city's vibrant Vietnamese community. For example, most first and many second generation Vietnamese-Americans don't buy prepared foods all that often and prefer to cut their own meat for stir-fry at home.

Huntington Beach's surfer culture is equally represented in the new store - in the pizza and beer bar.

The in-store pizza and beer bar, which has seating for customers, offers hot pizza from an oven and has a variety of cold beers on tap, and is designed to be a local gathering place for shoppers to meet up with friends. The "bar" also features a live real time feed of the surf conditions in Huntington Beach so surfers can keep track of the waves. Being able to monitor the local waves while having pizza and beer is a surfers dream. As such, we expect the "bar" to become a hangout once word gets out about the real time feed.

As a part of its fresh-prepared foods offering, the store also offers shoppers "Beach Bar, such as: 405," which features a selection of rotating ethnic foods and flavors from all over the world such as: beef and chicken empanada plates; a variety of bruschetta and marinated garlic plates, and unique dishes like arepas (flat cornmeal patties from Venezuela and Columbia stuffed with chicken, cheese or meat) and Jade Pearl Marbles (rice balls made with Jade Pearl rice, vegetables and herbs) served with sesame miso dipping sauce.

Additionally, the in-store "Beach Bar 405" also offers a full selection of comfort foods like fried macaroni and cheese balls, chicken wings, nachos and french fries.

Below are some of the other key departmental features and focal points of the new Huntington Beach Whole Foods Market store:

Meat: specialty meats featured in the meat department include: savory cured meat from the in-house smoke bacon program, smoked pork bellies, shabu shabu meat, duck and game birds. And that's just fpor starters.

Seafood: The fresh fish and seafood offering is extensive. It includes whole fresh fish and fish fillets, seafood and shellfish of every kind, including numerous varieties and sizes of shrimp, pre-packed wild-caught and responsibly farmed fish packs with vegetables for steaming or stir frying, fish smoked in-house daily and more.

Cheese: there's a full selection of cheeses sourced locally and from around the world. Also: pre-packed cheese packs, like the "International Assortment" or "The Cheese Mongers Pick" are featured in the department. Customers can create their own pairings of cheese with jellies, honeys from Honey Pacifica, a local honey producer, truffle oils, spreads, sauces and tapenades

Beer and Wine: Create your own six pack. The 'Mix and Match 6-Pack' offered in the department lets customers create their own set of hand-crafted beers from around the world, including varieties from the Orange County-based brewery, The Bruery. Wines made from grapes from Vietnam, as well as traditional favorites from Santa Barbara and other well-regarded regions are featured in the department. The store also is one of the first Whole Foods stores in the country that will carry what will be the grocer's challenge - an inexpensive but quality wine - to Trader's Joe's famous "Two Buck Chuck."

Bakery: organic breads made fresh daily include French baguettes, a Vietnamese favorite from the years of French occupation, plus a variety of Vietnamese coconut cakes, as well as tapioca desserts, cream puffs and cream horns. There are numerous gluten-free and vegan baked goods offered.

Produce: Whole Foods says it's offering as much quality locally-grown produce as it can source in the department, including products from Orange County Produce, featuring in-season and unique, ethnic selections such as baby bok choy, baby celery and greens for Asian cooking grown at Yasutomi Farm and a large selection of fresh squeezed citrus and vegetable juices.. Huntington Beach is in Orange County.

Floral: flowers and plants from local vendors are features, including lilies and Gerber daisies from local Fox Point Farm and succulents and indoor plants grown at Farm-Deer Springs, another local grower. The department is also offering eco-friendly cards, to pair with floral gifts, from Jillson and Roberts, a line of locally-made cards designed by kids through the Art for Education program.

Pickle Barrels: Roll out the barrel. The store offers a variety of bulk Alexander Valley pickles in barrels. The varieties include: Manhattan, Bread & Butter, Hot & Spicy and famous Rick's Picks, which have to be tasted to be described.

Bulk foods and more: The store offers more than 60 herbs and spices in bulk. There's also numerous types of olive oil, including two California brands, available in bulk dispensers. Containers are available at the store but shoppers are encourages to bring their own reusable containers

Whole Body: A major offering in the stores body care section is a selection of value oriented bulk natural soaps, bath salts, shower gels, shampoos, conditioners and lotions. There's also make-up, supplements, including herbs and essentials from Southern California-based Paradise Herbs, and a huge selection of organic baby products.

Like all Whole Foods' stores, the new Huntington Beach unit puts a major emphasis on offering locally-produced and made foods and other products, as we've outlined above.

Store Team Leader Pat Cox says the store currently offers products from over 50 local purveyors and vendors - and that the list is growing. For example, the in-house coffee poured in the store's cafe comes from local vendor Portola Handcrafted Coffee Roasters.

The new store makes 30 stores for Whole Foods in Southern California. The 30 units range in size from 25,000-30,000 square-feet to the nearly 80,000 square-foot Southern California flagship store in Pasadena.

There are 62 Whole Foods stores in California.

Whole Foods Market currently has four new stores in development in Southern California - one each in Del Mar, Encinitas, Malibu and Oxnard. The grocer continues to search for new store locations in the region.

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Damien said...

Quite amazing with 30 stores in Socal, comparing to about 10 in DFW. We have a long way to catch up - no rep points for us in Texas.

Whole Foods is the trendsetter of eating healthy - you read about my lunch box - that is something to look in.

Anonymous said...

Some targets including a recent bakersfield opening are in malls as well

Anonymous said...

Great article as well meant to say that in first post