Whole Foods joins lineup of upscale grocers in Northeast Tarrant

07/06/2014 12:00 AM

07/07/2014 9:11 AM

Northeast Tarrant County, already dense with organic-friendly and upscale specialty grocers, gets a new option Tuesday with the opening of Whole Foods Market in Colleyville.

Long served by traditional grocers such as Tom Thumb, Kroger, Walmart Neighborhood Market and Albertsons, the area also has choices from Sprouts and Central Market in Southlake to Market Street in Colleyville and Eatzi’s in Grapevine.

But before this week, if shoppers in Northeast Tarrant wanted to go to Whole Foods, the Austin-based chain that specializes in natural and organic foods, they had to drive to north Arlington or Dallas.

Marilyn and Bob Ricks of Bedford, who have witnessed the growth of shopping options over the years, said they regularly shop at Market Street, United Supermarket’s upscale store, which is also in Colleyville.

The Ricks said they prefer the store’s produce and fish.

“Right now this is our favorite,” Marilyn Ricks said outside Market Street.

But she said she will be making trips to Whole Foods because the store has items that she can’t find easily at Market Street, including gluten-free options for a son with celiac disease.

Industry experts said it should be interesting to see whether the area, loaded with middle- and upper-income neighborhoods, can support so many stores.

Whole Foods is less than a mile from Market Street; Eatzi’s, a smaller, Dallas-based specialty store that describes itself as a European market with a focus on carry-out foods, is six miles away in Grapevine; and H-E-B’s Central Market is five miles away in Southlake. Trader Joe’s and The Fresh Market both are coming soon to Southlake.

Bill Stinneford, a senior vice president at Buxton, which provides retailers with market data, said that while Northeast Tarrant’s demographics are appealing to the retailers, the numbers may not support so many competitors.

“Everybody wants to go in that area, it looks great on the surface,” said Stinneford, who said The Fresh Market is one of his company’s clients. “You’ve got to look at the density. Is there enough of that type of household to succeed, especially when you consider the amount of competition?”

Dennis Berryman, team leader for Whole Foods in Colleyville, said the store’s commitment to healthy living fits perfectly in Colleyville, which is bordered by North Richland Hills, Hurst, Keller, Southlake, Grapevine, Euless and Bedford.

“Part of what we want to do is make our stores where people want to hang out,” Berryman said. “Make the chore of grocery shopping fun.”

Besides fresh and organic produce and meats, Whole Foods in Colleyville will offer wood-fired pizzas, food bars, a wide variety of cheeses, bins of nuts and grains and ample vitamins and other health-related products.

“It’s the healthiest food available,” Berryman said. “I don’t think anybody does it as good as we do.”

Whole Foods will also have a beer and wine bar. Outside, two recharging stations are installed for hybrid vehicles.

The 44,000-square-foot store will anchor the revitalized Colleyville Downs shopping center, which features a Goody Goody liquor store and Matt’s Rancho Martinez Mexican food restaurant.

The operators of Market Street, which has been in Colleyville for almost 11 years, said they believe it has already carved out a niche in the market.

Eddie Owens, director of communications for United Supermarkets, said the grocer’s competitive edge is its ability to fill most shopping needs.

“We position ourselves as where everyday meets gourmet,” Owens said. “We hope that we can provide a different shopping experience than some of our other competitors from the perspective of making grocery shopping a one-stop.”

Both Market Street and Whole Foods in Colleyville are banking on their locations as places where people stay. Market Street’s in-house Peet’s Coffee has already established itself as a meeting place in the city.

Marty Wieder, Colleyville’s economic development director, said people who live and shop in the area are the big winners.

“This means more options for our residents and neighbors,” he said. “People like having choices so now they’re going to have another.”

Marilyn Ricks said besides having quality and unique items in the grocery stores (Central Market is featuring organic Rainier cherries from Washington right now) convenience is perhaps the most important thing she considers.

“Eventually, when the novelty wears out, we’ll probably come back to our main stores,” she said.

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