At last, the highly anticipated Whole Foods Market (2001 Market Street) grocery has opened in the Castro. Boasting a whooping 28,000 square feet of shopping space below the new, recently completed, 38 Dolores apartment building, the pristine purveyor of all things 'organic' threw its doors open wide on Wednesday post-cutting of the ceremonial challah bread by Dist. 8 Sup. Scott Wiener to the appreciative oohs and ahhs of about 100 shoppers.
This is the 7th store opened in the green grocer's steady push into the City and the 31st of the chain in the region. Whole Foods prides itself on tailoring new stores to the local populations and communities wherever they open. They certainly have thrown the net out wide here in an attempt to forecast or interpret current neighborhood needs and trends with this new facility.
In the Castro store you'll find a shoe shine station that looks both equally new and old-timey evoking a Burning Man sans dust retail vibe. Light fixtures made out of repurposed hats, battered yet highly polished wood, and a selection of fedoras to purchase --in case you forgot yours-- await you and your scuffed, unpolished, shoe-shining needs.
Post foot buff wander over to the popup oyster shucking station and, well, shuck some oysters from a wide variety of regions in the state and along the US coastline. After getting completely shucked, head to the drink bar and wet your whistle with one of the bountiful and exotic selections of available beverages.
“These things are obviously not food-related, but our focus is on community and giving the community different reasons to come in and congregate,” said Rob Twyman, Whole Foods spokesperson to SF Business News, who was hired last year to oversee the company's expansion into the area.
Whole Foods is based in Texas and is the 9th largest grocery retailer in the US. It recently received a 85 out of a possible 100 from the Human Rights Campaign Fund when it was rated in its standards of equality in the workplace. The other bump to our Castro economy is the approximately 150 to 200 new full-time jobs and that's always a good thing.
Despite my eye rolling the new grocery retail spot is a bit of a design marvel compared to all of the other city's Whole Food locations like in Potrero Hill or Upper Haight. Steel structures and plywood were molded and twisted to make trussed canopies in the seating area. Window dressings are decidedly retro and used to balance all the huge glass windows and steel beams. You'll also find top-hat-shaped lights providing both ambient mood lighting placed in corners around the store. The rest of the retail space is characterized by shapes that evoke Victorian era tastes, stripes as a cohesive visual element and urban street art aesthetics.
You'll be able to decide for yourself if you think they hit the design mark on your next shopping excursion. Along with all the community targeted innovations the store is boasting products on its shelves from 50 local vendors with a wide variety of products from artisanal cheese to handmade soaps. Just be prepared for sticker shock. This place isn't for those looking to cut coupons, but, should be well-tailored for all the newly minted Twitter millionaires now calling the Castro home.