Get a peek inside Whole Foods’ most unique store yet, opening today

Whole Foods Market opened its newest grocery store in New York City’s Financial District on Wednesday amid fanfare: giveaways, free product samples galore, a live jazz band and two intricate ice sculptures that gradually disappeared as the crowds grew.

“It’s good to have a grocery store that’s accessible downtown — there weren’t any grocery stores down here,” said Jackie Belson, 44, who works across the street and is eagerly awaiting the new store’s opening. Belson and a colleague came to pick up dessert for her entire office. They settled on a matching Wall Street cake for $24. They also walked away with new socks, courtesy of a pretzel company.

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“It feels delicious,” Belson said of the new store, “because everything is hot and fresh. It’s like putting on a new pair of socks for the first time.”

The new store, officially the upscale supermarket chain’s 513th US location, is unique for several reasons.

First, it features Whole Foods’ largest selection to date of locally made products from the surrounding tri-state area — over 1,000 items, in fact. Founders of several local food startups attended the celebrations in person. “Every new store opening is an opportunity to introduce new local brands,” said John Lawson, Whole Foods local collector for the Northeast region.

Secondly, the layout and interior of the store is unlike any other. The 42,000-square-foot supermarket occupies the landmark One Wall Street skyscraper, a historic Art Deco-style building nearly a century old. The shop pays homage to the building’s original design with brass-colored fixtures and geometric patterns. Large etched plaques mounted on the wall in the self-checkout area are from the building’s original elevators.

Since the building is a listed building, the floor plan of the store had to be adapted to the existing contours, which gives the basement in particular a certain labyrinthine quality. “It definitely doesn’t have that big box feel,” Lawson said.

Coffee bar in the new Whole Foods in NYC's Financial District.

Coffee bar in the new Whole Foods in NYC’s Financial District.Chris Shott

Regional products are prominently placed everywhere. “This is our first launch,” said Sharon Nevins, Chief Marketing Officer of CHKP food, a new Brooklyn-based startup that makes plant-based yogurt from chickpeas. Whole Foods is the exclusive retailer of the product. The low-sugar, high-protein yogurt comes in four flavors and is featured in both the non-dairy aisles and the store’s coffee bar. Nevins said she’s pleased with the response from customers to the company’s free samples: “We’ve gone through almost all the products we’ve brought in.”

Another product making its retail debut on Wednesday is Matriack, a line of tomato sauces made from salvaged fruit that is typically wasted. “The tomatoes come from an aggregator processor in Virginia that makes top-of-the-line roasted tomatoes, and it was wasting three million pounds a year because they were too big, too small, a little bit too ripe,” explained Anna Hammond, the company’s founder. “We have not only created an environmental solution, but also a business solution.”

Hammond said she was thrilled with the turnout at the store’s opening and also curious to see how people react to its unusual design. “It’s going to be interesting to see how people actually find stuff,” she said.

The cheese counter is supervised by a trained Certified Cheese Professional.

According to Whole Foods, the cheese counter is looked after by trained Certified Cheese Professionals.Chris Shott

The full-service fish counter offers local options including smoked salmon from the Catsmo Artisan Smokehouse and Acme Smoked Fish and Oysters from the West Robins Oyster Company.

The full-service seafood counter offers local options, including smoked salmon from the Catsmo Artisan Smokehouse and oysters from West Robins Oyster Company.Chris Shott

Whole Foods Market One Wall Street is located at 66 Broadway in New York City.

Eat this, not that

Eat this, not that

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