Whole Foods is opening a store in Albany, NY on Wednesday (6/18/14) and invited me down for their media event before they opened. I used to shop at Whole Foods when we lived in Connecticut, but haven’t since we moved to New York, since….well, there just wasn’t one within range. When I was invited down for a special pre-opening media event, I jumped on the chance!
We are about an hour from Albany. They are located on Wolf Road and we could see the store as we were getting off the Thruway exit. The media tour started at 3pm, and we were handed a recycled folder with some info inside, as we walked in. The store wasn’t completely set up yet, but there were many people there getting everything in order for opening day.
As we walked in the door, the first thing we saw was their amazingly stacked produce.
They explained that they try to source local whenever possible, so you will find a lot of items in the store that were made right around that area. The produce is both shipped in from other parts of the US, as well as grown locally, depending on what it is. They used bananas as an example, since there is no way they are getting New York grown bananas, they ship them in from other states. They mentioned that they have a lot of organic foods there, but not all are, and they keep the organic produce separate from the non-organic, to prevent crossing them.
After the produce was there fish section, which I really didn’t get a good look at, due to the number of employees setting that section up still. They did tell us that they worked with local fisherman as well. They also own their own Dock in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and a lot of their fish comes from there. The fact that they own their dock (Whole Foods as a whole, not just this one chain) is pretty cool to me, how many stores can say that?!
Next on our tour was the Butcher. Yes, Butcher, not just a meat section, they actually have an in house butcher, where they cut meats for you. If you want a different thickness than what is the norm, just ask them and they will cut them for you. They also mentioned that they give discounts for bulk orders, so if you are a family like mine, with 6 kids, you know how much meat you can go through. We tend to by a couple hundred dollars worth of meat at once, and freeze it to last all month. If they are going to give discounts for us buying the same way we always do, I am all for it! Check out these meats, they look delicious!
They work with the Global Animal Partnership, a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 2008, brings together farmers, scientists, ranchers, retailers, and animal advocates—a diverse group with the common goal of improving the welfare of animals in agriculture. Their program, the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards, recognizes and rewards producers for their welfare practices, promotes and facilitates continuous improvement, and better informs consumers about the production systems they choose to support.
They also offer a 5 for $25 program, where they offer deals on certain items when you buy 5 of them. Some of these items may be regularly $8-$10 each, but if you buy 5 (and you can mix and match with any on the list) you get then for $5 each! This is exactly what my frugal ears needed to hear!
Their cheese section was just amazing, they had so many different ones available, and I am excited to go back and try as many as I can. In the same area, they also offer beers on tap, and a cold case of many varieties of local beers, and some not so local.
I found these pickles as we were moving to the next section, there really is no story here, I just love pickles and these looked really good.
While we were there, we got to try a few different things, they offered up brownies, but I passed on them because they had nuts in them. I am not allergic, I just don’t like nuts in my brownies, lol. We also got to try their in house pizza, it was SO GOOD! Fresh EVERYTHING, oh and they also said that everything in their Bakery is made with Cage Free Eggs.
They don’t have just any fast food cooks there, they hire real Chefs for their foods! They offer 122 seats in their Cafe, as well as a kids section with toys to keep them occupied while you sit and enjoy a meal, snack, or something from their juice and coffee bar.
Something that really piqued my interest, is their Healthy Eating Specialist that they have in store. Her name is Lisa Turk and she is there to help you shop for foods to match your needs, and even help you in the right direction if you wish to try a new diet that you may not be too familiar with. I am interested in Paleo, so I think I will have a chat with her about that.
Her hours will vary, but she thinks they will tend to fall in the 10-6 or 11-7 rangle, to be able to help both those there at the lunch and dinner times. She will have some weekend and evening hours as well. If she isn’t there when you need her, just ask when she will be on next and someone will be able to help you out. You don’t have to make an appointment with her, and there is no charge for her services!
Here is a shot of my husband, trying their freshly juiced carrot juice. It wasn’t my thing at all, but I tried the Green Passion juice, which was a mixture of spinach, kale, parsley, apple and cucumber. I admit, I was nervous, that didn’t sound like a fantastic combo. Let me tell you, it was the most amazing green juice I have ever tasted! I have to figure out how to make my own at home!
They also said that they have an open sample policy across the store. If you want to try something before buying, just ask, they will open up things to let you try them. They will also cut anything to order. If you want a cantaloupe, but live alone and can’t finish a whole one, they will cut it in half for you and charge you half. If you buy cases of an item, they give you a 10% discount, again, this is storewide! Bring in your reusable bags and get 10¢ off your total for each bag. PLUS, they stack coupons! If you have a manufacturer coupon for an item and they offer a store coupon for it, you can use both coupons on that one item. All of this amazingness, AND they offer FREE WiFi! Who wants to go shopping!?
They will be having their bread breaking ceremony at 8:30 am on 6/18/14, and will open to the public at 9:00 am. The first 200 through the door will receive a free reusable grocery bag!