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The first Whole Foods Market in Oklahoma City is set to open Oct. 12. On a preview tour Oct. 7, store management showed off the various sections of the store and pointed out where fresh produce, meats and seafood will soon be stocked.
One of those Oklahoma families with products on the shelf is P Bar Farms, which is about an hour west of Oklahoma City. The family has one of their own at the store. Lindsey Liebscher is the store’s concierge and grew up on her family’s farm. In recognition of Whole Foods, the family cut a maze into a corn field that from the sky reads “Whole Foods, Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.”
In her role, Liebscher will assist customers with facilitating personal shopper options, curbside pickup and just about anything else they need to make their shopping more enjoyable.
“I’m really excited about this job and the company,” Liebscher said. “A lot of their core values fits into what our family believes.”
The 41,000-square-foot store, in the Triangle at Classen Curve wedged between N. Western Avenue and N. Grand Boulevard, was brought to town through the efforts of Chesapeake Energy Corp., CEO Aubrey McClendon, and the Austin, Texas-based grocery chain.
Innerarity pointed out several unique touches to the store, including different kinds of reclaimed wood and used pots and pans that adorn an area above a pizza preparation area that were saved from the landfill. She said the company does not have a standard set of design plans.
“Every store is different,” she said.
Steve Cramer is store team leader and relocated from the Whole Foods in Tulsa. He has been with the company for seven years. Prior to Tulsa, he was in Seattle and Austin, including opening the company’s flagship store. He’s in charge, but don’t come looking for a manager.
“We lead, we don’t manage,” he said.
With no prior Oklahoma ties, Cramer moved to Tulsa and set his radar on Oklahoma City.
“We had a lot of guests that drove to Tulsa for the store,” he said. “My job was to make Tulsa successful enough so that the board that decides on new stores would approve an Oklahoma City store.”
So far, the Oklahoma City Whole Foods team is nearing 200. As the store gets going, Innerarity said there will likely be additional hires. She said most of the new team members are from the local area.
Approximately two miles away, competitor Sunflower Farmers Market opened at the end of August. Since, the store has kept the parking lot full and the aisles packed with shoppers. Innerarity said that is a good sign for Whole Foods that people here will support an upscale, natural foods market.
“That definitely shows the need for more products and better variety in a grocery store,” she said.
Based on years of anticipation for a Whole Foods store here, and the turnout at Sunflower, Innerarity expects same very busy days ahead when the store opens its doors at 8 a.m. Oct. 12.
“I think we’re going to have a tremendous response,” she said.
Photo by Shannon Cornman