The Collegian
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Organic food franchise opens branch in Short Pump

Seriously, where's the Capn Crunch?
Seriously, where's the Capn Crunch?

Natural foods retailer Whole Foods Market made its debut in Richmond Sept. 3 when it opened in Short Pump.

Traffic patrollers guided cars through the parking lot at the new store on its first Sunday of operation. Shoppers loaded up on groceries, tasted samples around the store and sat at the outdoor tables during the busy lunch hour. There were lines at every cashier and some shoppers bagged their groceries in pink reusable Ukrop's shopping bags.

This is the first Whole Foods location in the Richmond area, and the company's ninth opening in Virginia. The grocery chain has more than 270 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The company is the leader in the natural and specialty foods industry, according to an industry overview posted on Hoover's, an online research database that offers general company information and industry overviews.

Whole Foods educates customers on the benefits of organic food, health, nutrition and the environment and also seeks to provide the highest quality in organic and natural foods, according to the company's Web site.

The arrival of Whole Foods could present competition to other area grocers, such as Ukrop's and Kroger. Ukrop's currently has the No. 1 market share in the area, according to Mike Waldron, the general manager of the Ukrop's on Three Chopt Road, who was not phased by the new competitor.

"With Whole Foods coming into town," Waldron said, "they are going to do nothing but make us better."

Ukrop's offers customers a range of natural and organic products that Waldron said did not differ much from what Whole Foods offers. Whole Foods may carry seven different kinds of soy milk while Ukrop's may only have three, but Ukrop's would choose the three that it believed were of the highest quality, he said. Waldron's store has seen an increase in organic sales since Whole Foods opened and he credited that in part to the wholesome lifestyle the company promotes.

Waldron has worked at Ukrop's for eight years and said there were mixed feelings about the new Whole Foods. The people who have lived in the Short Pump area for a long time are probably upset about the recent explosion of retailers, while those who have recently migrated to the area are excited about the addition, he said.

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Many Richmond students shop at the Ukrop's that Waldron manages, and he said he hoped they would continue to shop at the store, especially because of the monetary support the company gave the school's programs.

The general manager from Whole Foods was unavailable for comment.

"I would totally start going there over Ukrop's," sophomore Elizabeth Timmis said.

Timmis and five of her friends ate dinner at Whole Foods last week and she was pleased both with the store and the organic brown rice sushi she purchased for dinner.

Some students shop at Whole Foods at home and were excited to hear about the opening in Richmond.

Freshman Jill Doto had a Whole Foods near her high school in New Jersey and she and her friends had gone there occasionally because it carries healthy, unique and fresh food, she said.

The prospect of having a store devoted to providing all-natural foods is appealing to some on-campus students.

"I would definitely take the opportunity once in a while to get organic foods [at Whole Foods] that I could cook with," senior Paul Negrin said.

Negrin shops at Ukrop's and Wal-Mart and said that although he would not make a full switch to Whole Foods because of cost, he would make the trip there for specific items.

Anna Creech, the electronic resources librarian on campus, said she would use Whole Foods at times as a supplement, because when she shops at Ukrop's or Kroger she usually purchases organic items, which can be limited. She said she would shop at Whole Foods for the variety if the prices were competitive.

The 15- to 20-minute drive might keep students from going to Whole Foods.

"It's too expensive and ETC has everything," freshman Kiki Grainger said.

Gas prices were a concern for senior Joe Bogardus who said he probably would not make the trip to Whole Foods because Ukrop's carries similar products.

Whole Foods is not the only large retailer that will open in the Richmond area this year. Trader Joe's, a competitor of Whole Foods, will be opening a location on Broad Street Sept. 26, according to the company's Web site.

Contact staff writer Jessica Murray at

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