Q. You also have a store under construction in downtown Miami. Please tell me about that and when it is expected to open.
We are very excited about our downtown Miami store located at 200 S. E. 2nd St. This will be an urban-style store, approximately 40,000 square feet, featuring many quick-to-go venues, a churrascaria and ample seating for shoppers to dine in. There will be dedicated customer parking below the store and seven levels of public parking above our store. There will also be a 41-story development — either hotel or apartments — on the site. Our community focus will provide a very diverse selection of products and services that our downtown customers will expect. This store has been in development for several years and we expect it to open late in 2014.
Q. Are there any other South Florida stores undergoing renovation? Do you have other new stores planned to open in Florida and in South Florida? How about in Midtown Miami?
We are continually investing and improving all our stores. Currently, we have a major renovation underway in our Fort Lauderdale store. Product selection has increased and we have added new venues and new food bars. The interior décor will be redone and improvements are happening to the exterior of the store as well. Our stores in Pinecrest, Coral Gables, South Beach and Boca Raton will also have significant improvements over the next few months.
Part of what I do is search for sites for new stores. We look aggressively in the entire state, including the Miami area, which is very attractive. Midtown Miami is an area of interest, however, we have no immediate plans for a store there.
As for new stores around the state, overall, we’re working on opening stores in Tallahassee, Pompano Beach, Miami, West Palm Beach, Altamonte Springs, Davie and Clearwater. There are more locations we’re looking at and will hopefully be able to announce soon.
Q. What kinds of special events and marketing programs are underway at your South Florida stores?
Each store has a marketing team leader focused on community involvement and outreach. They work with schools and various organizations in their community and offer donations, healthy-eating education and healthy-shopping tours in our stores. Many local charities also benefit from our 5 percent days. This is where once a quarter, we donate 5 percent of our net sales from a selected day. Each store selects their own local charities, and the groups join us on these days to educate our customers about their cause.
There are so many things going on in our stores, like wine dinners in Pembroke Pines or Blues nights in Coral Springs, that the best way to get a comprehensive list is to follow each store’s own webpage at www.wholefoodsmarket.com or individual Facebook page.
Q. What other community efforts make Whole Foods different from other supermarket chains?
We go out of our way to be an active member of the communities around our stores. In addition to the many partnerships and sponsorships we engage in throughout the state, we work closely with local schools to provide healthy eating education to students and staff, to provide financial grants to build school gardens, and to provide salad bars for lunchrooms.
We provide low interest loans to Florida producers to enhance their business through our Local Producer Loan Program. As a company, we’ve dedicated $10 million dollars to fund these loans, and Florida was the first region to offer one to a local honey producer in Palm Beach County; Buzzin’ Bee.
For our global community, we work to eliminate poverty through our Whole Planet Foundation. This foundation provides micro loans to woman in 60 different countries around the world to start or expand their own businesses. Our Whole Kids Foundation works with schools to improve nutritional education and healthy food options for students and faculty. They also support our regional efforts in supporting schools. And our new Whole Cities Foundation will build stores in those areas where fresh healthy foods are not accessible.