The first Whole Foods Market in Gainesville is set to open Wednesday.
The first 500 residents in line when the store opens at 9 a.m. will randomly receive gift cards ranging from $5 to $500.
The store, located at 3490 SW Archer Rd., operates Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The new market includes amenities that sets the location apart. They include a Genji ramen bar, cafe, dining area and self-service stations for coffee, juice beverages and acai bowls.
Heather McCready, a Whole Foods Market spokesperson, said the store catered specifically to Gainesville community needs with the create-your-own acai bowl, beverage, hot and cold food bar self-serve stations. It is the largest of its kind in the state.
“We don’t just show up and build the store,” she said. “We really entrench ourselves in the community to try to understand what it is they love and what it is that they want.”
The store carries produce from 20 Florida farms, pizza dough from Italy and a seafood department that displays the name of the fisherman and boat the food was caught on, McCready said. The beer and wine section features Gainesville’s Swamp Head Brewery and First Magnitude Brewery Co. craft beers.
McCready said the Gainesville location is different because it allows residents to grocery shop and also provides a place to sit and eat. The location also caters toward students with a pop-up bar that serves beer and wine from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m daily and power outlets in the cafe and dining area.
Found only in the Butler Plaza location is aviation decor paying tribute to the historic Stengel Airfield, built just before World War II. McCready said the store’s yellow, blue and brown theme is modeled throughout after the airfield because of its significance to Gainesville.
Alex Brunache, a 21-year-old UF information systems senior, said he does not plan on changing his shopping habits because the location is inconvenient for him. Brunache lives two houses behind the Publix at 203 NW 13th St. and shops there.
He said students who live closer to campus and downtown will be kept away from shopping at this store because stores closer to campus offer similar alternatives at more affordable prices.
“For people like me, I think familiarity prevails and keeps me in my own routine,” he said. “Their products have great quality, but it’s not really enough to make me drive all the way to Whole Foods.”
Thomas Stewart, a 21-year-old Santa Fe health science junior, said shopping at Whole Foods Market rather than other stores is worthy of his time and money even if the products are more expensive than competitors.
“I’m definitely going to be taking a step away from the other grocery stores all together,” he said. “Now we have the better option.”