Whole Foods Market will have some familiar Kansas touches when it opens

WICHITA — Whole Foods Market may be new to Wichita, but there’s going to be something familiar about the store when it opens Sept. 3 in the Waterfront at 13th and Webb.

The Austin-based chain often likes to take inspiration from a locale when opening a new store there.

“We normally try to have stories behind what we do,” says Paul Jarvis, decor project manager.

Some stores are easier than others.

“If we open in, like, a suburb, it’s harder to find … obvious details,” Jarvis says.

“Wichita is just chock full of fun stuff,” he says. “I went out to Wichita with one of the designers, and we just kind of soaked it in and did a lot of research.”

Jarvis, a Kansas State University graduate who works in Whole Foods’ Boulder office, took photos at places such as Beechcraft.

“We did a lot of walking around Old Town.”

Then he gathered photos and colors “from the feel we got” and did a hierarchy of what’s important here.

“Aviation came out on top,” Jarvis says.

Kansas nature and what he calls a Native American element also were influential.

There will be some obvious references to those things and some more subtle references.

“There are a lot of yellows that we got from sunflowers and … fields and wheat,” Jarvis says.

A lot of the decorative wood in the store is reclaimed.

Jarvis also went to Rantoul, Kan., to visit Dodson International, which deals in aircraft parts.

“I wanted to find something special,” Jarvis says. “They’re a great resource.”

He picked up some old wings and propellers, among other things.

Jarvis is not saying how he’s going to use them, though.

“I kind of want them to be a little bit of a surprise when we open.”

In addition to actual aircraft parts, there will be artwork featuring aspects of aviation or patterns that can be seen from planes.

“We really kind of went all out with the details of the patterns we got from airplanes,” Jarvis says.

“There’s a lot of little details like that that hopefully people will pick up on.”

Team leader Angela Schmidt gives a tour of the new Wichita Whole Foods Market, which she’ll manage.

GreenAcres Market finishes Whole Foods Association conversion with new signs

WICHITA — The final phase of converting Wichita’s Whole Foods Association stores to GreenAcres Markets is happening Wednesday when signs at the three stores will be replaced.

That includes the Whole Foods Association store in the Clear Lakes shopping center near the southwest corner of 21st and Amidon and the one near the southwest corner of 21st and Maize.

It also includes the Whole Foods Association store in Normandie at Central and Woodlawn. That sign had been looming over the center about three decades.

“It was there forever,” says GreenAcres owner Barb Hoffmann. “If you look at it, it looks like it was.”

In January, Hoffmann and her husband, John, purchased the Wichita Whole Foods Association stores, which have no affiliation with the larger Whole Foods Market, which opens Sept. 3 at the Waterfront at 13th and Webb.

In May, the Hoffmanns and Whole Foods Market announced that they struck a deal for the Austin-based chain to use the Whole Foods name here instead of the Bread & Circus name it looked like it might have to use.

Next up, Hoffmann says she has expansion and remodeling plans for most of her new stores.

She’s expanding the Clear Lakes store from 3,500 square feet to 6,500 square feet.

“We’ll start it here in the near future,” Hoffmann says. The idea, she says, is “just more offerings” for the neighborhood.

“It’s a real ethnic store. We’ll have a lot of ethnic items.”

The 6,000-square-foot far-west-side store will undergo an expansion next spring, though Hoffmann isn’t sure how much it will increase by yet.

Hoffmann says she’s also remodeling the 23,000-square-foot GreenAcres in Oklahoma City.

At the original GreenAcres at Bradley Fair, Hoffmann is remodeling the bathrooms but won’t do major remodeling until spring. For now, she’s focusing on the newer stores.

“We’re really thrilled we have these stores,” she says. “Every one has such a unique customer base, and we have just really enjoyed learning all the parts of the city.”

Pink Saloon to move to Waterfront addition

UPDATED — After a period of some hard consideration, Brooke Hebert has decided to move her Pink Saloon from Douglas and Oliver to the new addition of the Waterfront at the northwest corner of 13th and Webb.

“It’s been really good where we’re at, so it wasn’t an easy decision,” she says.

Pink Saloon, a women’s clothing shop, had been in El Dorado for three years before moving to Wichita five years ago to the same center where Aspen Boutique is.

Hebert says her business has grown every year she’s been in Wichita, but she says the majority of her clients are in east Wichita.

“They come from all over,” Hebert says, but “the east side’s really strong for us.”

waterfrontThe new Whole Foods Market, which is set to open at the Waterfront on Sept. 10, is part of the lure.

“Whole Foods, obviously, is a great anchor,” Hebert says.

She says she also likes other tenants at the Waterfront, which includes a more developed addition on the northeast corner.

On the northwest corner, the 51,000-square-foot first phase is nearing completion.

In the Bag Cleaners last week announced it will have a store there, and Equity Bank also will be to the north of the building that will be home to the cleaners, Pink Saloon and Whole Foods. There are spaces for several other tenants as well, and there’s another 14,000-square-foot building coming with the second phase of development. It will be between the bank and the first retail center. There also will be a smaller building in front of the second center with up to 4,000 square feet.

“We are getting ready to start Phase 2,” says the Waterfront’s Stephen Clark II.

He says Pink Saloon will make a great addition.

“You’re starting to see now how visible this center is, and I think that location will make a big difference for her,” Clark says.

Hebert says her store will have a new look.

“It’s going to be completely different, actually, as far as the aesthetic,” she says.

“The space is going to be really cool,” Clark says.

Hebert won’t share details yet, though.

“It’s going to be a surprise.”

She says the new store will be ready sometime in the fourth quarter.

At 1,800 square feet, Hebert says, her store will be smaller than her current 2,800 square feet, but “it’s not going to change our product mix.” She says she may even expand some lines.

Hebert says she’s excited about the move.

“Anytime you change and evolve, it’s just really exciting.”

Don Piros of Landmark Commercial Real Estate and Carl Hebert of InSite Real Estate Group handled the deal.

Carl Hebert is Brooke Hebert’s brother-in-law. This was the first time the two worked together.

“He really helped me through this process,” Brooke Hebert says. “It was really fun to work with him.”

Law Kingdon Architecture designed the center, and the Law Co. is the contractor.

“We’re about where we’d thought we would be,” Clark says of the center’s progress. “Things are going well.”

He says there should be more news soon.

“We’ve got some great tenants that have signed up and that we’re talking to.”

Whole Foods Magazine names GreenAcres Market 2014 Retailer of the Year

WICHITA — Diehard fans of GreenAcres Market have been concerned for the 20-year old, 7-store chain as major competitors such as Whole Foods Market and Natural Grocers have entered the area and smaller vitamin and supplement chains have expanded here.

Perhaps in a sign that it’s not going anywhere, though, GreenAcres has snared a major industry award from Whole Foods Magazine. The magazine, which has no relation to Whole Foods Market, has named GreenAcres the 2014 Retailer of the Year.


“We can’t believe we got it,” GreenAcres co-owner Barb Hoffmann says. “We didn’t have a clue we were even in the running.”

Hoffmann says the magazine is geared to 20,000 other stores like hers.

“It’s the No. 1 magazine in our industry,” she says. “Out of 20,000 stores, we were exceptionally excited.”

Hoffmann, who owns the store with her husband, John, daughter, Shannon, and store manager Matt Murray, didn’t set out to be in the natural foods business.

She and her husband own the plant store Tropical Designs, and some heavy lifting she did there along with in her personal life years ago injured her back.

“I started originally in this industry because I had a real pain problem, and so I got into alternative health and then that got us into natural food stores,” Hoffmann says.

“At that time, they were really big in supplements and you didn’t see that many groceries because here in the Midwest, we’re just a little slower than everybody else for people to catch on,” she says.

“Since I had lost my health … I started reading everything I could get my hands on. As I became knowledgeable, that’s one of the reasons we wanted to open (the store) because we wanted to help others.”

She says they did their homework.

“John and I traveled everywhere and looked at all the stores that have made a mark in our industry,” Hoffmann says.

“Our big dream was could we ever be that?” she says. “So we kept forging forward, and we got more and more into groceries. They started tasting better and better. We developed a real business because we had people coming in every day with gluten-free problems, with food sensitivities, and they were looking for answers, so that in turn sent us into discovering our real niche.”

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Whole Foods Market will be called that instead of Bread & Circus

UPDATED — As expected, Wichita will not have to live with the Bread & Circus name that drew so many complaints.

Its new Whole Foods Market at the Waterfront at 13th and Webb Road will be called by that name, which is what most people called it anyway.

As GreenAcres Market owner Barb Hoffmann hinted last month, she negotiated with the organic food chain over the name.

GreenAcres Market owners John and Barb Hoffmann are changing the names of their three Whole Foods Association stores to GreenAcres Market and letting Whole Foods Market at the Waterfront have that name.

GreenAcres Market owners John and Barb Hoffmann are changing the names of their three Whole Foods Association stores to GreenAcres Market and letting Whole Foods Market at the Waterfront have that name.

In January, Hoffmann purchased the Wichita Whole Foods Association stores, which have no affiliation with the larger chain.

“We have great respect for what Rene Shelton and her family have built under the Whole Foods Association name, and we don’t take that lightly,” Hoffmann said in a release. “This was a very hard decision, but we feel, moving forward, it is best for our customers to have a united offering and a unified GreenAcres brand. We are glad we reached an amicable agreement with Whole Foods Market and both parties are excited to turn more and more Wichita shoppers on to natural and organic foods and the quality products both our companies stand for.”

Hoffmann says she and Whole Foods Market each agreed not to say anything beyond what was in both of their news releases.

Three Whole Foods Association stores will change their names to GreenAcres by late summer. That includes stores in Normandie at Central and Woodlawn, in the Clear Lakes shopping center near 21st and Amidon and near 21st and Maize Road. Hoffmann already was in the process of changing two Health Food Center stores in Oklahoma to the GreenAcres name.

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Wichita’s Whole Foods Market may not have to be called Bread & Circus

breadncircusWICHITA — According to a poll so informal it probably shouldn’t be called a poll, it looks like the Bread & Circus name that Wichita’s new Whole Foods Market will go by here isn’t exactly being embraced.

Or, to be blunt, no one seems to like it – or actually call the store by that name.

There’s a glimmer of hope, though, for those who prefer the Whole Foods name.

The reason the Austin-based chain chose Bread & Circus, which was the name of some stores the company bought in 1992, is Wichita’s local Whole Foods Association already had the name here.

GreenAcres Market owner Barb Hoffmann purchased the Whole Foods Association stores in January, and it appears she’s now considering letting the larger Whole Foods chain have the name.

“I’m not able to say anything right now,” Hoffmann says.

She says she’ll likely be able to talk in a couple of weeks.

Read More »

SpaRenity Nails & Organics to open in same Waterfront center as Bread & Circus

pedi1WICHITA — In keeping with the organic theme of the Waterfront’s new Whole Foods Market, which will go by Bread & Circus in Wichita, a new spa and salon featuring organic products is opening in the same center.

Wichitan Kevin Tuan and his family own four salons around Wichita, but now he’s branching out on his own for two more, including the one at the northwest corner of 13th and Webb.

His first SpaRenity Nails & Organics will have a grand opening Sunday at 3750 N. Woodlawn.

Tuan says this will be a smaller spa, offering pedicures, manicures and facials, than the one he’ll open at the Waterfront. That one also will include massage.

Tuan says he wants to see how the first one goes and make adjustments for the Waterfront site.

The Woodlawn spa is opening in the former Golden Nail space.

“Everything’s brand new,” Tuan says.

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Good Life Co.’s cookies go national

UPDATED — Even during the Good Life Co.’s humble beginnings – when Greg Cole was selling his Little Bits cookies at farmers markets – he knew he’d go national one day. He never thought it would be three years after starting his business, though.

“We’re actually two years ahead of our projected plan,” Cole says.

“We go national next month,” he says. “I never thought that we would get a national contract so soon.”

Cole’s specialty is seven-spice gourmet cookie. After farmers markets, he began selling to local stores, such as Green Acres MarketSpice Merchant & Co. and the local health store Whole Foods Association.

When Fresh Market opened at Bradley Fair in 2012, Cole began selling his cookies there.

“They weren’t expecting the cookie to do so well,” he says.

Then the Kansas City Fresh Market began selling the cookies.

Now, the chain is going to begin putting Little Bits in its other stores as well.

“It’s going to be a five-year project,” Cole says. “You can’t roll out to every store all at once. … That’s an ongoing process.”

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Whole Foods Market to open in Wichita at the new Waterfront Plaza

UPDATED — A new phase of the Waterfront development will be the home of Whole Foods Market when it arrives in Wichita next year.

“It’s very big for us,” said Stephen Clark II, who is managing the project, of landing the organic and natural food chain.

“It could be beneficial for the whole market,” Clark said. He said retailers such as Whole Foods Market and the new Cabela’s that entered the market earlier this year attract other big names.

“The more of that you can get, the more interest there is from others.”

Clark’s father, Steve Clark, and fellow Waterfront developer Johnny Stevens are building a new 70,000-square-foot retail center called Waterfront Plaza on the northwest corner of 13th and Webb Road, which Stephen Clark says is part of the larger Waterfront development on the northeast corner.

Whole Foods will anchor the development with a 30,000-square-foot store that Clark said will open in November 2013.

“We just feel that it’s really going to pair well with the community,” said Ben Friedland, executive marketing coordinator of the Rocky Mountain region for Whole Foods Market.

“One of the things that we’re most excited about is we’re a very decentralized organization, which allows us to build stores that are very specific to the communities in which they live,” he said. He said the chain partners with local producers who meet Whole Foods Market standards to sell their items so the store is “going to be endemic to the community, and it’s going to take on its local flair and its local flavor.”

“We’re just really excited about the abundance of local products available.”

Friedland said the Austin-based chain, which has 325 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, has been looking at Wichita for a couple of years.

“It’s another feather in the cap of Wichita for bringing the big names that wouldn’t touch us two to five years ago,” said Don Piros of Landmark Commercial Real Estate. “It’s the domino effect. You bring one or two here, and the rest think, geez, maybe we should be here.”

Piros is handling leasing at the remaining 40,000 square feet at Waterfront Plaza in addition to retail and office leasing within the larger Waterfront area east of Webb Road. That includes a new 4.3 acre area under development north of Chester’s Chophouse & Wine Bar where two new office buildings are slated to be under construction soon.

Piros said he’s close on a few potential Waterfront Plaza tenants. Clark said landing Whole Foods helps.

“People want to be next to Whole Foods, and we expect a lot more activity out there.”

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Could Whole Foods be a possibility for Wichita in the next few years?

WICHITA — It may not happen next year — or even the next few years — but there’s hope Wichita could one day have a Whole Foods Market.

The grocery chain ranked No. 6 in a 2010 Wichita Eagle survey of what Wichitans want.

A Reuters story this week quotes Walter Robb, co-CEO of the Austin-based chain, as saying he expects there to one day be 1,000 Whole Foods stores nationally.

Currently, there are about 300.

The story says, “The upheaval in the commercial property market has created opportunities for companies looking to expand, and Whole Foods has identified locations where it ‘can put some bets down and take advantage of that.’ ”

Robb added that the company has “some contingency plans so that if we needed to, we could slow down.”

We’ll let you know if it looks like the company might take a bet on Wichita.