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Sep 3, 2012 02:45 PM

The new Whole Foods in South Park (Charlotte)

Have any of you shopped? My BF said it was a zoo, and too many things to try. Have any of you all braved the crowds?

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  1. Having been to WF many times in years past, I have no need or desire to go now.

    14 Replies
    1. re: carolinadawg

      Unless you do all your shopping at farmers markets or Atherton Market, etc., WF is going to play a key role in exposing local purveyors from this part of the Piedmont to the broader market like never before. That in itself gives me reason to support them so that they can continue to source and expose these products to others.

      The farm-to-table movement in the Charlotte area with respect to restaurants is basically DOA right now, so maybe it can at least take off from a raw ingredients perspective.

      1. re: mikeh

        I'm not sure what you mean...can you expound on that a bit? Are you saying that WF has items vastly different from or unavailable at Harris Teeter, Trader Joe's, Fresh Market or any other food/grocery store in Charlotte?

        1. re: carolinadawg

          To a large extent, yes. Trader Joe's is not about local sourcing at all, in fact they are about the opposite. They are about forming exclusive distribution relationships with a lot of providers for imported products from far and wide, offering them at unbeatable prices for the quality you're getting.

          Harris Teeter is a good regional upscale conventional supermarket, but likewise you aren't going to find a lot of local farms for the meat or produce they carry. A few, yes, but not a huge rotation of multitudes based on what happens to be available on any given week.

          Fresh Market is a VERY upscale grocery chain that goes for the absolute highest end of what you're getting (fruit without a single blemish, etc.), but again, it's not about what is particularly local.

          The only "chain" store we have right now that does the local sourcing thing is Earthfare, and they don't do it very well. You'll still find that most of their produce comes from outside the Southeast, and their buying power is sufficiently limited such that they are only able to offer the local stuff at prices far above what WF is.

          Basically, WF fills an important niche in local, farm-to-table for the masses that isn't replicated unless you're going directly to a farmers market. And for what isn't local but is still organic and such, they have "Walmart"-like economies of scale and buying power such that you are not going to be able to find the same for a better price elsewhere.

          1. re: mikeh

            I was not aware WF had a significant percentage of their products that is sourced locally, and I am frankly very skeptical about that.

            Their website lists their "local" suppliers, but of course says nothing about what percentage of the products they sell that come from those suppliers. Most of them appear to be niche suppliers, providing one product, no doubt during a limited time period.

            1. re: carolinadawg

              Check out the meat section. You'll see plenty of signs indicating the meats that are locally sourced. The Whole Foods here in Raleigh also sells quite a lot of locally made packaged products as well as produce. Take a look.

              1. re: SittingOnAMtnTop

                Yes, the volume of local meats (both fresh and processed), along with milk, eggs, butter, etc. completely dwarfs any other non-farmers market offering in the area. They even had fresh (actually fresh, not pre-frozen fresh) 16/20 count shrimp straight from Charleston, SC for $13/pound. You can't touch that elsewhere this far inland. I also noticed a good deal of local produce as well, like tomatoes from Hendersonville, NC, plus okra and a wide assortment of field peas and beans, etc. The price point on a lot of this stuff was no higher than Harris Teeter for a superior product. Tell me where you can get free-range, vegetarian-fed NC eggs for $3.39 for 18. The 365 brand (typically organic or high quality) is really good for staples at a much lower price point then you'll find anywhere else except for Trader Joe's for soup stock, olive oils and vinegar, juices, baking ingredients and such.

                1. re: mikeh

                  Completely agree Mike. I should also mention, the bulk section is great. The prices are very low and you can get exactly the amount that you need (comes in handy of you cook for 2). I usually stock up on raw almonds, organic grits, oatmeal, etc.. Also, they have a bulk spice section so if a recipe calls for a teaspoon of something expensive like cardamom, etc. you can buy just a bit for way less. The other day I bout 34 ounces of EVOO (365 brand) for $5.99, less than it would cost at Walmart! You can not beat the quality of their meats, seafood and produce and their prices are extremely competitive. They even offer printable coupons online.

                  I prefer it over Earth Fare hands down. Earth Fare's prices are considerably higher and the selection is smaller and honestly I believe the quality is inferior.

                  1. re: mikeh

                    You had me at fresh Carolina shrimp. <swoon>

                    I went again this weekend. They do carry a good bit of local products, some produce and meats. At their bar, they had NoDa Brewery and Red Oak beers on tap and bottled in their cold cases.

                    I'm really pleasantly surprised that their prices aren't as astronomical as I had previously thought. I bought an 8oz box of Maldon salt for $6 and it was $10 at Dean & DeLuca. They match or beat HT prices on many things too. I guess I've been squeezed dry from HT for so long that sticker shock no longer affects me. ;-)

                    I was disappointed I couldn't find dried pequin peppers or salted anchovies there, but for hard-to-find specialty items it is the place to go. Dean & DeLuca blows them out of the water for cheeses and charcuterie. Winestore carries many of the same wines at much better prices too.

                    1. re: lynnlato

                      "They match or beat HT prices on many things too" My sentiments exactly. While I have not been to the one in Charlotte, all other WF I have been to have had better prices and service than comparable stores such as HT. If they don't have something ask them to order it. I have many times and they have obliged. They would regularly order sardines and skate for me in the past.

                      If you stay away from the prepared foods the price for the quality is pretty good

                2. re: carolinadawg

                  The store in Mt P that I use sources quite a bit from the two farms I use.

          2. re: carolinadawg

            I agree, I have no desire to shop there. Earth Fare and Home Economist are just fine with me (and farmers markets). Whole Foods just seems like a Wal-Mart with a "Certified Organic" sticker. Frankly Earth Fare is headed in that direction, but I haven't given up on them yet.

            1. re: billyjack

              Isn't "Wal-Mart with a Certified Organic sticker" a good thing? Unless you have something against large corporations generally. Just remember that most corporations hope to become large. There's no doubt that Earth Fare wishes it could be Whole Foods, just like Whole Foods back in the day was basically Earth Fare. If you're okay with paying higher prices for less selection at Earth Fare (i.e., there's practically nothing that Earth Fare carries that WF doesn't, down to the actual purveyor) because they are still to some extent the "small guy," then more power to you. If I take that line of thinking, though, I'd much rather support a full-fledged coop like Weaver Street Market in the Triangle or Atherton Market in Charlotte.

              1. re: billyjack

                Earth Fare hasn't been that small in many years. It has fewer stores, sure, but they've been owned by investment group after investment group. I agree with mikeh...patronize a co-op or family owned grocery if you are against large businesses.

              2. re: carolinadawg

                Apparently, this WF isn't like the WF where I shop -- not a wine or gelato bar in site up here. Seems there are reasons to cruise through this one, if just to see what is available. My BF visited on the opening weekend and was thrilled by all the delicious samples being offered. He went the next weekend to shop and realized how expensive those bison porterhouses were.

              3. I'm pretty jazzed. Great fish dept.. Meat dept. - has local grass fed beef. Deli had some great product. Produce looked great. I thing this is Charlottes best supermarket option.

                1. I went today. It was a nice store, but their prepared foods area left something to be desired. They don't have the grill w/ made-to-order burgers, panini, etc. like the one in Greenville SC. I spoke w/ an employee who said that this store is one of their most state-of-the-art stores, but many of those benefits are on the employee side, not the consumer's. The back parking lot isn't paved yet so it was muddy and the parking out front is limited. The employee also told me that there is a 2nd floor where they will be holding cooking classes and they have a play area for kids up there (yeehaw). He also said that they have plans for 4 more stores in the area. Some areas they are considering are the Lake Norman area and Ballantyne. They projected a million dollar first week and are slated to exceed that. The stock on the shelves were low or missing many products as they had sold out of many items. I'll give them a month or more before I return.

                  1. Stopped in last Friday about 6 pm for a quick walk through -Crowded! Never expected to see a bar in a grocery store(my first trip to a WF). - seemed to be pretty popular. I need to go back during a slow time to browse. I did pick up a pan of Dufour puff pastry from te frozen case. Just gotta figure our what I want to dowith it now,