SNEAK PEEK: See inside Whole Foods Market’s West Seattle store before it opens Wednesday

Story by Tracy Record
Photos by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

13 1/2 years after Whole Foods Market (WSB sponsor) first announced it was coming to West Seattle, it’s hours from opening.

We toured the new store today for a preview before the doors officially open at 9 am Wednesday.

The store comes with a huge backstory; a lot has changed in those 13 1/2 years. It originally was supposed to be in a development called Fauntleroy Place across SW Alaska; that project stalled post-excavation and Whole Foods eventually pulled out, saying the terms of its lease – to provide a store for it to open – weren’t being fulfilled. Eventually, after a legal fight and auction, a different developer opened the project as Spruce, with LA Fitness in the commercial space. But by the time that opened four years ago, Whole Foods was already signed up as anchor tenant for The Whittaker – a seven-year journey that had more stops and starts, including a mayoral attempt to stop it and a short-lived decision to shelve the project. Then Amazon bought Whole Foods, and two years ago, the store plan was back on.

Now on with the tour:

The store is huge. The photo above looks across the checkout area – 6 self-serve, 8 full-serve – at the Fauntleroy-facing front of the store. Just beyond that is seating, plus more in a mezzanine, some outside, and some in the Brews and Blends coffee/tea/smoothie area toward the northeast entrance.

Moving south into the store on the east side, first section is Health and Beauty:

Then the produce section.

It’s not all organic, but they are serious about the retailer’s overall certification, with dividers between organic and non-organic produce, the “wet area” arranged so that water won’t drip from non-organic to organic, etc. Past the produce is the bulk section – food only, no non-edible items, although there are some unpackaged soaps in stock, such as Good soap with fair-trade shea butter, by Alaffia, one of many local/regional retailers, pointed out by cards and signage throughout the store, some including photos and bio info of the growers/makers.

Denise Breyley, one of our guides, evangelized a long list of local products as we walked around the store – finding local providers is her mission. On every aisle and every shelf, she pointed out countless Seattle/Northwest products. Some are already familiar names – like Ellenos yogurt – some, you might be seeing/tasting for the first time.

The local focus stretches to vegan, gluten-free, and other specialties. Breyley rhapsodized about Heidi Ho‘s vegan “cheese” dips – Heidi herself will be part of the opening festivities tomorrow (more on that shortly). On to the west side of the store:

You can get custom-cut meat and fish, with local/regional suppliers in the spotlight of that section too. On to prepared foods and self-serve bars, like the one with olives/antipasti:

Self-serve also applies to ordering kiosks in the prepared-food area – if you’re placing, for example, a pizzeria, taqueria, sandwich, ramen, rice bowl order – and of course the nearby hot-food, soup, and salad bar areas. Next to where you can fill your own containers, there’s also a case full of grab-and-go items (like Eat-Gud‘s beet poké), not far from an extensive cheese section (with monthly events planned) and a rack of gourmet chocolate, as well as self-serve cases of mochi ice cream and macarons.

On the way there, we passed the beer/wine/spirits section, where Beyley pointed out a specially chosen sipping whiskey from Woodinville Whiskey, named Alki 1601, with a limited amount ($69/bottle) available at WF. Yet another local sighting- this mural on the Fauntleroy side of the store:

It’s by Seattle-based artist Sarah Robbins.

A few other notes:

THE WHOLE FOODS/AMAZON LINK: Amazon Prime members get special discounts and deals, and you’ll be reminded of that throughout the store. You can download the WF app and then show your phone when checking out.

GRAND OPENING: Though the store doesn’t open until 9 am Wednesday (with store-team leader Gary Ruiz and the ~120 employees participating in a “breaking bread” ceremony that’s a company tradition), you’re invited to show up as early as 8, for food and beverage sampling outside. Tote bags with swag and more await the first 300 shoppers. One more grand-openig note: 5 percent of the store’s net sales on October 17th will go to the West Seattle Helpline.

HOW TO GET THERE: The Whittaker is at 4755 Fauntleroy Way SW, on multiple bus lines. If you’re driving, the garage entry is from the two-end driveway between the complex’s two buildings, on the north side of the driveway, with more than 200 spaces set aside for the store, the chain’s 28th in Washington state (its first, on Roosevelt in north Seattle, marks its 20th anniversary next month).

70 Replies to "SNEAK PEEK: See inside Whole Foods Market's West Seattle store before it opens Wednesday"

  • Wendell October 8, 2019 (5:11 pm)

    Nice sign for those who don’t really know where they are.

    • WSB October 8, 2019 (5:41 pm)

      Maybe a chain thing – Trader Joe’s has a lot of “West Seattle” signage/art.

    • Grocery shopper October 8, 2019 (7:02 pm)

      I remember when Admiral Thriftway changed to name to Queen Anne Thriftway after the remodel.

  • wf customer October 8, 2019 (5:16 pm)

    Where do you access the parking garage? I have never parked in that building before.

    • WSB October 8, 2019 (5:40 pm)

      It’s explained toward the end of the story. North side of the thruway between The Whittaker’s two buildings.

    • tg8 October 9, 2019 (8:54 am)

      there wont be any!

  • Mike October 8, 2019 (5:16 pm)

    N-O-P-E!!!

    • Peeb October 8, 2019 (6:09 pm)

      Perfect, more for me!

    • Mike October 8, 2019 (7:02 pm)

      Y-U-P

  • M October 8, 2019 (5:17 pm)

    Did they talk about enforcing parking time limits in the garage to ensure one can park to shop rather than have it continuing to be used as a Park and Ride lot? 

    • WSB October 8, 2019 (5:39 pm)

      WF is a tenant. That would be something for The Whittaker to handle.

      • Not Happening October 8, 2019 (6:46 pm)

        I lived at The Whittaker.  Based on my experience they’re not handling anything.

        • MK October 8, 2019 (10:49 pm)

          Hahaha. Spruce tennant; LA Fitness’s two floors of parking NEVER fill up, so I would imagine Whole Food’s wouldn’t either. However, the number of times I get stuck waiting behind 10 cars trying to cram into TJ’s parking lot… 

  • Allison Stieger October 8, 2019 (5:22 pm)

    Exciting! Can’t wait to shop there. 

  • Whole Paycheck October 8, 2019 (5:45 pm)

    Just cashed out my 401k…I’m ready to go grocery shopping!

  • athleta98 October 8, 2019 (6:00 pm)

    Another great option in the WS “hood”.  PCC, Met Market, Whole Foods…..  Love it.

  • HD October 8, 2019 (6:37 pm)

    I love that this is within walking distance of my house so I have one less reason to drive my car! 

  • Chris K October 8, 2019 (6:53 pm)

    I can’t wait for tomorrow’s opening.  I will be there to support the hard-working employees, many of whom are residents of the West Seattle community.

    • Question Authority October 8, 2019 (8:54 pm)

      Non Union, nuff said.

      • Question Authority October 8, 2019 (9:43 pm)

        Translation – the prices are high but the wages are not.

        • neighbor October 9, 2019 (8:47 am)

          People are choosing to work there even though there are openings at unionized grocery stores, so perhaps we should respect that they made that choice freely. I’m not anti-union, but I also don’t think non-union employers are necessarily bad. My personal experience has been that the quality of an employer doesn’t rest upon union/non-union status. Your experience may not have been the same.

        • West Seattle Hipster October 9, 2019 (9:56 am)

          BINGO!!  

        • Chill October 9, 2019 (10:35 am)

          I work there and I get paid 16.50 per hour and at a small business in west Seattle I dot paid 12 per hour plus tip so it’s not too bad there’s also room for growth in the company and benefits. 

      • Eva October 10, 2019 (3:33 pm)

        Solidarity!

  • Zmmr October 8, 2019 (6:57 pm)

    Anything cheap in there I can afford to buy?

    • 2 Much Whine October 8, 2019 (7:57 pm)

      You can buy a plastic bag for a nickel.

    • The King October 8, 2019 (8:23 pm)

      I’m going to try to put some bananas on layaway. Before the food police on our city council tax them also for having too much potassium. 

    • simon1021 October 9, 2019 (1:40 pm)

      Maybe stop in and look instead following all the other narrow minded goats piling on. Whole Foods is an excellent option for grocery shopping. Just like MM, Safeway, PCC, and Thriftway etc…..no one is forcing you to shop anywhere. You are welcome :)

  • Wsea October 8, 2019 (7:09 pm)

    I just wish it was not amazon owned.  Im just not a fan of their business practices.  Store looks nice though. It’s nice to have so many options in west seattle with met, pcc and other chains.  Huge improvements with all stores in the last decade.

    • Tracey October 8, 2019 (9:08 pm)

      I’m with you WSEA.  It is impossible to spend a day without Amazon in your life.  Between online retail and Amazon Web Services they are everywhere.  I refuse to let them own my local grocery dollars.  I don’t use them online either.  

    • WS Res October 8, 2019 (10:03 pm)

      What specific business practices don’t you like? $15 minimum wage before anyone else? Supported by Bernie Sanders himself? https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/02/amazon-raises-minimum-wage-to-15-for-all-us-employees.htmlFree 2 day shipping? 24/7/365 shopping access?Can you name the things you aren’t a fan of, or are you just stating a generic grudge against an easy target?

      • KM October 8, 2019 (10:37 pm)

        Refusing to hire critical staff as “employees” to avoid liability/fees. Cutting insurance for part-time workers of Whole Foods. No union protection for workers (and poor benefits for many of the worker bees in fulfillment centers and at HQ compared to similar companies.) Poor environmental track record (2-day free shipping and 24/7/365 shopping availability is just a small part of the problem.) And we haven’t even broached the issue of tax equity or Bezos himself. As Tracey noted, I avoid shopping at their stores in the flesh or online whenever possible. And that’s quite the mischaracterization of Bernie’s views on Amazon.

        • Seriously? October 9, 2019 (5:54 am)

          I agree KM. Bezos is on par with Wal-Mart when it comes to mistreatment of employees and disregard for the environment. 

      • Calires October 9, 2019 (12:53 am)

        Former Amazon employee here.  Prime was set up as an impulse shopping prompt.  There was absolutely no care given to how potential multiple shipments per week/day by millions of people would affect the environment, or traffic, or fuel a drug epidemic (easy stealing).  There was a mandate to only hire FC (fulfillment centers, i.e. warehouses) management as ex-military.  Not because there was a desire to hire veterans, but they were looking for the drill sergeant mentality to manage the workers in the conditions they were required to work in.  Most of the FCs are in very economically depressed areas (huge tax breaks for Amazon), which is a mixed blessing for the workers because, yay, jobs! but workers are more likely to be willing to deal with bad conditions because they are desperate for jobs.  I could go on for more space than is available here about the things that were cringey at Amazon, but I took the money when it was offered until I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I’m definitely not feeling morally superior here…

        • McFail October 9, 2019 (7:43 am)

          Ha!  That’s a new one… Amazon blamed for drug epidemic because of package theft…  Is Bezos a kingpin in a drug cartel, uses Whole Foods as a front? Makes money from consumers then makes more money from drugs?

          • Seriously? October 9, 2019 (8:09 am)

            McFail . . . what? Please point to an example of someone blaming Amazon for the drug problem in this thread. 

          • McFail October 9, 2019 (5:13 pm)

            Seriously….”There was absolutely no care given to how potential multiple shipments per week/day by millions of people would affect the environment, or traffic, or fuel a drug epidemic (easy stealing).”

          • Seriously? October 9, 2019 (5:26 pm)

            @McFail, my apologies, I didn’t see that earlier. Comment withdrawn. And I agree, Amazon has many flaws, but I don’t think it’s responsible for the drug epidemic. . . that’s been an issue for a century at least. 

        • Kevin October 9, 2019 (8:51 am)

          Calires- a mandate to only hire veterans? I don’t believe that anything you said is factual. 

      • WSEA October 9, 2019 (10:56 am)

        I’ve had several friend work there and all have had miserable experiences.  One guy was put under so much pressure to perform that he broke out in hives.   He finally quite and moved to another city.    I understand not all departments operate in this nature but its been hard for people I know who work there.   The biggest reason is the destruction of smaller businesses.   I would rather my cash go to local companies.  Its just a personal preference.  Yes, I know there HQ is here but I would not call them local. Not like a mom and pop shop which cant just pick up and go someone else. Also, the $15 wage was implemented due national pressure. Now, since he’s paying it, he requesting everyone to pay it, which is great, but he’s only looking at his best interest. He did the same with paying sales tax.  He was against internet tax until he had to pay it due to having locations everywhere and now he’s wanting all internet companies to pay it.  I don’t mind you supporting them.  you should spend money based on your values or needs. 

  • Greg October 9, 2019 (5:52 am)

    Based on the comments you’d think most of these people would rather shop at “Troll Foods”. Get a life haters.

  • anonyme October 9, 2019 (6:53 am)

    I’ve repeatedly talked up PCC and talked down Whole Foods, but after visiting the new PCC I may have to relent.  I didn’t see a single old employee at PCC, and the cashier was rude.  The new bulk section that was raved about has a nonsensical arrangement that places the goods on two separate aisles.  You have to keep running around in circles to find what you want, and the bags, pens, etc. are only on one side.  If you buy hot food, you have to go upstairs to eat it.  That’s fine if you don’t have a shopping cart, or if you can climb a flight of stairs.  If not, you have to go into the vestibule and wait for an elevator upstairs.  Very, very awkward, and guaranteed cold food.  In addition, many of the prices have gone up dramatically, probably to pay for the remodel.   I still prefer PCC to Amazon, but the new store is poorly designed, and the experience was very disappointing. 

    • Wes C. Addle October 9, 2019 (10:24 am)

      I agree with your points, with the exception of the food consumption issue.  You can sit outside instead of going upstairs, also if your food was cold after a minute or two of waiting for the elevator, it was probably colder than it should have been, to begin with.  That’s more of a food prep issue to me.My biggest gripes with the new PCC are two things:

      • The parking spaces are way too tight.  I have a small SUV crossover and it is tight.  There’s going to be lots of door dings and fender benders happening here.
      • The aisles are also too tight.  If someone stands in the middle of an aisle and is not paying attention (happens in every store) then people are just milling around and causing a backup.  Especially in the frozen aisles near the self-serve food.
    • newnative October 9, 2019 (10:46 am)

      Anonyme, I didn’t see the upstairs eating area. I went outside, which is the only place you can go from the checkout lanes. I had to go back in for utensils because they didn’t have a bussing station. I’m going to give it few more weeks and try again. I might just go back to the Columbia City PCC. I love that store. 

    • Saying goodbye? October 10, 2019 (10:02 am)

      I agree. PCC has a very poor design. Both entrances require people to walk stairs. No level entrance to outside. Poor for people with mobility problems, wheel chairs, strollers, etc. Must wait for elevator. I visited Whole Foods the next day. Much more pleasant experience. (And many affordable options.) Sad to say since I’ve been a PCC member for over 25 years. Also, prices at PCC are super high compared with other stores, all of whom carry organic foods now. Current PCC customers in a neighborhood care very little about their plans in other parts of the city. I’m afraid PCC is going to expand itself out of business.

      • WSB October 10, 2019 (10:31 am)

        Re: the pricing, we shop at every locally owned store in WS (and occasionally Trader Joe’s or Roxbury Safeway) and pricing issues are wildly variable depending on what you buy. Went into the new PCC as a customer for the first time yesterday and noticed that four items (one produce, one fish, one boxed, one package of in-shell nuts) that we have regularly bought elsewhere were all cheaper. Will be checking out WF as a shopper sometime next week … TR

  • dm October 9, 2019 (7:53 am)

    Yea Whole Foods! So glad after this many years we have one and also our beloved PCC is back. So hope that there is enough support for all our grocery options now in West Seattle. Lets hope that they all can thrive and make that very very small profit margin that grocery stores live on to stay alive. 

  • Rachel October 9, 2019 (8:46 am)

    Kinda messed up that they chose Yom Kippur to do this big opening event, guess they don’t want any practicing Jews at their opening 

  • Sandra October 9, 2019 (8:50 am)

    I will not be spending my dollars at this Besos-owned store.  I talked to 2 former Amazon wharehouse employees who left Amazon for better treatment at Lowe’s.  Besos mistreats workers.  Period.

  • tg8 October 9, 2019 (8:52 am)

    there will be no parking. period.Just what we needed! another grocery store on the same block as 3 others.

    • WSB October 9, 2019 (10:06 am)

      Big underground garage, as mentioned in the story.

  • Maria M. October 9, 2019 (9:11 am)

    “Give the people what they want and they’ll come”: In this case, free swag bags and gift cards, and the line of prospective shoppers stretched all the way down 40th to the Masons’ parking lot at 8:50 am. on opening day.  Welcome to the ‘hood, Whole Foods!

  • SoAdmiralK October 9, 2019 (9:20 am)

    For the sake of small businesses in the area, I hope parking enforcement is out to enforce time limits for street parking.  Where are all of their employees parking????

    • Dawsonct October 9, 2019 (6:57 pm)

      It’s a major transit hub. Maybe some of their employees are smart enough to take public transportation.Some may even live in the neighborhood.

  • west sea neighbor October 9, 2019 (9:27 am)

    I was among the first 20 through the door this morning. Rousing greeting with clapping and gratitude from dozens of WF employees as we entered the store. That was nice after spending 90 minutes in the cold outside. It’s a beautifully executed space. So many dining options, and a lot of seating areas that are separate from the store space itself. Well done. I’ll be a shopper for sure.

  • Josh October 9, 2019 (9:37 am)

    For all the complainers, Whole Foods is a LOCAL company. It’s owned by Amazon. Whether you like it or not, Amazon is a Seattle company.

    • brian October 9, 2019 (10:26 am)

       Thanks for the technical correction, no matter how insipid and pointless it was.   

    • Seriously? October 9, 2019 (5:02 pm)

      Amazon is a local Seattle company on the same level that Wal-Mart is a local company in Arkansas. Huge, nation wide corporations masquerading as a small, local business. 

  • Kathy October 9, 2019 (10:58 am)

    Did anyone notice if you can get bulk Greek yogurt at Whole Foods by bringing your own glass container to fill? I shop at PCC and love their new bulk section but this is one thing I cannot get at PCC. I am trying to stop using plastic containers for my yogurt purchases.  I shop everywhere by bicycle and trailer. PCC is closer to me, but I will make a special trip to Whole Foods for my Greek yogurt if I can get it without having to buy a plastic container.

    • KM October 9, 2019 (11:46 am)

      Kathy, have you tried the farmer’s market on Sundays? I used to buy my yogurt from Samish Bay in a glass jar and would return for them to reuse. Not sure if they are still doing that though. I thought i saw yogurt in the PCC salad bar the other day, but my eyes may have deceived me.

      • Kathy October 9, 2019 (5:29 pm)

        Ellenos at West Seattle Farmer’s Market wouldn’t sell me plain unsweetened yogurt. Maybe the stand in Pike Place Market. I like Greek yogurt because it seems to have a lot more protein and calcium than other types.

        • savoirfaire October 10, 2019 (7:27 am)

          Kathy, I was at PCC last night and didn’t see bulk yogurt, unless a yogurt bar section of the salad bar counts.I did recently try out a recipe from a website called the Daring Gourmet for making yogurt in the slow cooker, and it turned out really well. From a gallon of milk I ended up with 64 oz of yogurt with a cup left over to start the next batch. The texture was great  and the flavor was a lot milder than most plain yogurts.You can make it on the stovetop too, apparently, but it needs a lot more attention.

    • WSMama October 9, 2019 (11:51 am)

      The new PCC does have a self serve yogurt section on the end of their salad bar. I haven’t use it yet, but the yogurt looked good!

      • Seriously? October 9, 2019 (4:59 pm)

        I had the lemon PCC yogurt on Tuesday. Heaven! So good!

  • CommUNITY October 9, 2019 (12:22 pm)

    Our choices matter: Whole Foods is the largest corporate advertiser left on Breitbart, a white supremacist propaganda site. Despite the efforts of organizations like Sleeping Giants, they continue to support this site and its hateful content. Amazon’s track record of employee abuse is also long and very well documented and despite scathing investigative reporting from the New York Times, Seattle Times and many others that detail human rights abuses,  Amazon with its extraordinary powerful position controlling 40% of retail can just ignore these damning reports.  Recently Bezos eliminated health benefits for 1800 workers. This during another year of record sales where his worth rose to $137 billion or calculated to approximately $9million per hour. There are better local options and I’ll continue to support local companies truly invested in community good rather than supporting unchecked greed. 

    • WS Guy October 9, 2019 (7:24 pm)

      Whole Foods hamburger is great quality.  I can’t wait to get down there.

  • anonyme October 9, 2019 (12:48 pm)

    Wes, it’s not exactly practical to plan on eating outside in Seattle much of the year.  I don’t like eating outside anyway, for a variety of reasons.  By the time I got my food, waited to check out, waited for the elevator, and finally got upstairs – probably ten minutes in all – the food was fairly cold.  Also, if you’re grabbing food on your way out after shopping and have a cart with bagged groceries in it, the upstairs area (which feels like it should be office space) will not accommodate the cart.  Nor can most people carry a couple of bags while balancing a plate of food and/or beverages.  The Columbia City store is probably the best designed of the chain.   The dining area is next to the food and salad bars, and you just park your cart next to your table.  NewNative, the upstairs seating area is kind of a secret; I had to ask where to find the seating area and was told upstairs.   Rachel, I could just as easily claim that Whole Foods didn’t want any seniors at their opening, as most seniors or disabled folks can’t stand in a line for that length of time.  I had to leave and come back when there was no line.  You can’t please everyone all of the time.  

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