Inside Whole Foods Knoxville: New store offers sneak peeks to eager guests

Getting ready for the opening of the new Whole Foods Market, Knoxville

Getting ready for the opening of the new Whole Foods Market, Knoxville

It’s finally happening, Knoxville!  Our much-anticipated new Whole Foods Market will be open for business on March 24th, and many folks — at least in West Knoxville — are ready!  In fact, the question around here is What took you so long?

Serving lunch during pre-opening tour days:  Whole Foods Knoxville

Serving lunch during pre-opening tour days: Whole Foods Knoxville

When I pulled into the parking lot in front of the new store,  a man directing traffic said, Are you here for the tour?  I replied, I don’t have a reservation.  But he assured me:  No problem.  Just go inside and see what’s up.  And that’s how I lined up for a tour with Caitie from Asheville, North Carolina — here for guiding pre-opening tours of Knoxville’s new store.

Caitie from the Asheville, NC store leads a pre-opening tour at Whole Foods Knoxville

Caitie from the Asheville, NC store leads a pre-opening tour at Whole Foods Knoxville

We turned on our listening devices and began at the beginning — the Health and Beauty aisle where fragrant soaps were already piled high.

Colorful hand-made soap piled high at Whole Foods Knoxville

Colorful hand-made soap piled high at Whole Foods Knoxville

Mural of Tennessee in Whole Foods Knoxville

Mural of Tennessee in Whole Foods Knoxville

Caitie invited us to sniff while she talked to us about the uniquely Knoxville touches in this particular
Whole Foods Market — like murals of Tennessee on the walls, antique heart pine flooring framing the spaces, and products made locally.  (Check out this article in the Knoxville News-Sentinel for more on how Whole Foods supports local companies like Cruze Farm, Blackberry Farms, etc.)

Not only that, said Caitie.  This Knoxville store has something no other store has:  The Rocky.  We peered in to this not-finished-yet space that, upon opening, will be a place to order a craft beer, glass of wine, and slice of pizza all while listening to live music.  You can come here on Friday evening, added Caitie, order a beer and pizza, do your weekly shopping, and make a night of it.  (Smile.)

The Rocky -- where you can order beer, wine, pizza and listen to live music!

The Rocky — where you can order beer, wine, pizza and listen to live music!

We walked onward, and Caitie added, Many of our teams are just meeting for the first time today.  Noted: lots of huddles, group t-shirts, and people talking and shaking hands.  Like these girls in the coffee area. (See that pretty heart pine decor?)

Coffee bar, Whole Foods Knoxville

Coffee bar, Whole Foods Knoxville

And the girls passing out gelato from a revolving case.

Getting a free sample of gelato from the new Whole Foods Knoxville.

Getting a free sample of gelato from the new Whole Foods Knoxville.

And the guys proud to be on the cutting edge of this new Knoxville venue.

I was already mentally mapping out my upcoming shopping strategy:  Get a cup of that freshly ground coffee and then head to the Biscuit Basket for a breakfast sandwich on a fresh-made doughy treat.  When one lady asked if they would have gravy for those biscuits, Caitie just rolled her eyes.  Well, duh.  Yeah.  This IS the South. (And the official home of the International Biscuit Festival, too.)

Biscuit Basket -- where you can do some serious carb-loading!

Biscuit Basket — where you can do some serious carb-loading!

Free sample:  Tennessee pulled pork at Whole Foods Knoxville

Free sample: Tennessee pulled pork at Whole Foods Knoxville

All that walking could take its toll, but not if you’re doing a pre-opening tour of Whole Foods.  They were ready for us with free samples all along the way — salad, sliced cheese, and pulled pork with a Tennessee sauce on the side!

One demo team talked about the 365 line of products, like this creamy peanut butter generously spread on freshly sliced apples.  Affordable, tasty, and one of many products bearing the store label.

Want a free sample of our peanut butter on a crisp apple slice?  I do.  I do.

Want a free sample of our peanut butter on a crisp apple slice? I do. I do.

Caitie noted the corporate emphasis on maintaining high standards — and not just the ones that were posted. Ratings systems were also in place: Whole Foods rates their meat with an Animal Welfare Rating and fresh produce with a Responsibly Grown Rating System.

Responsibly Grown Rating System for Whole Foods Markets

Responsibly Grown Rating System for Whole Foods Markets

Filling the bags with spices at Whole Foods Knoxville

Filling the bags with spices at Whole Foods Knoxville

Although shelves were only partially stocked the day of the tour, we suspected that elves will finish the job the weekend prior to the Tuesday opening.  Already, however, we could see busy employees filling bags of buy-in-bulk spices.

At the end of the tour, we were each handed a sack filled with sample foods and coupons for our first visits. Overall reactions from my tour group?  All good.  We loved the layout, the samples, and the emphasis on fresh and local.  And most said they’d shop here — maybe on opening day.  After all, Knoxville, the wait is almost over.  And soon, very soon, we’ll be cookin’!

Cooking sign, Whole Foods Knoxville

 

For more information: 

Whole Foods Knoxville, 6730 Papermill Drive, Knoxville, TN 37919; wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/knoxville

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WholeFoodsKnoxville

Twitter:  @WFMKnoxville

Articles on Whole Foods Knoxville:

Campbell, Chuck. “Whole foods serving lunch before opening date.” Knoxville News-Sentinel (March 16, 2015). http://www.knoxnews.com/knoxville/food-and-dining/whole-foods-serving-lunch-before-opening-date

Constantine, Mary. “A Sneak Peak at Knoxville’s Whole Food Market.” Knoxville News-Sentinel (March 19, 2015). http://www.knoxnews.com/knoxville/food-and-dining/a-sneak-peek-at-knoxvilles-whole-foods-market_91200586

 

 

 

About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
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17 Responses to Inside Whole Foods Knoxville: New store offers sneak peeks to eager guests

  1. lulu says:

    Every store Whole Foods opens seems to be better than the last. They’ve gotten to be quite an experience.

    • I’ve been to a few during my travels — sometimes just to have dinner on my own without waiting in a restaurant. Looking forward to this one opening so close to my house. And you’re right . . . I’ve heard it’s an experience just going there. Thanks for commenting!

  2. You lucked out with the tour! 🙂 I’ve been to the Whole Foods in Sacramento numerous times. There are always a lot of good foods available. You will enjoy the store. –Curt

    • I’m looking forward to having one so close to where we live. Once, when I stayed in a hotel in NYC for a week, I couldn’t afford to eat every meal out. Whole Foods saved me — both eating in and taking food back to the hotel! It’s an interesting store with lots of choices!

  3. Oh, I don’t think I would ever leave this place, ever! I’ve been to a few here in London and it’s pretty hard for me not to spend a small fortune!

  4. Jeanne Tapp says:

    Great job, Rusha. Your clever words and photos make me want to go!

  5. Amy says:

    WF is a new way to enjoy food and grocery shopping! Enjoy the tour, Rusha!

  6. No word on the Kathmandu branch. I’m still waiting ;o)

  7. Whole Foods is a wonderful store, love to shop there, but there is a reason they refer to it as ‘whole paycheck.’ 🙂

    • Judy, it’s interesting that you mentioned the money aspect. Our tour guide had evidently been hit with questions concerning price before, because she immediately addressed the question. She mentioned store brands and local foods as ways to cut costs. Can’t wait to comparison shop! Thanks for the comment!

  8. Pit says:

    I hope you’ll enjoy your new Whole Foods as much as we do ours in San Antonio. As it is about 70 miles, we don’t just drive there ti get something, but nearly always, when we have to go to San Antonio anyway for one reason or the other, we stop by at the Whole Foods there.
    Have a great weekend,
    Pit

    • Thanks for letting us know that you, too, visit Whole Foods. There’s a lot of competition for grocery dollars in our area, so I’m interested to see how busy they will be after the “new” dies down. But most of these stores are doing quite well everywhere. So glad I have the chance to shop in a variety of places!

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