Helicopters, Almond Milk, and Backcountry Artifacts — Whole Foods Comes to Town

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This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
No this was not the scene to buy tickets to an Iron Maiden concert. Just a parking lot of the area's newest grocery store.

No this was not the scene to buy tickets to an Iron Maiden concert. Just a parking lot of our area's newest grocery store.

When you think of grand openings my mind reels images of World War era battle ships’ bows being christened with champagne, baseball stadiums erupting with fireworks, and the ever classic oversized scissor ribbon cutting antics. When a new store comes to any town sometimes people notice, hate mail in the local papers shuffles in, maybe even the occasional extravaganza sale to get shoppers through the door may work.

But when a store has been planning to open in an area for more than half a decade, there is going to be some hype, especially when that store is Whole Foods.

Lou sent me on a photographic assignment to see what all the hoopla was about up the road, as he never ventures up valley, except for fitness uphilling missions in the family econo-Versa (which by the way would look fine in the Whole Foods parking lot, while the Duramax, not. And I’d really like to watch the happy couple arrive in their rock crawler Jeep.)

I pulled into the parking lot of what resembled a parade/farmers market navigating carefully through the sea of $1k strollers, women in yoga pants, and excited localvores, all of which will look at you as if you either a) were driving too fast b) your car is too inefficient or c) that there are only three carbon road bikes on your car instead of four.

Apparently it's also completely normal to drive from Alaska for a Whole Foods opening. Can you name that truck?

Apparently it's also completely normal to drive from Alaska for a Whole Foods opening. Can you name that truck?

Typical Whole Foods scene I’m sure we all can agree. Although this location is just fifteen miles from Aspen I can assure you there will be without a doubt a designated row for chauffeur driven Escalades in due time.

As I grabbed my camera from my truck I walked past a group of “campers” in a tent positioned perfectly on a bed of mulch. They looked as if they spent the night by the cowlicks on their heads.

Just before entering the store I heard sounds of rotor wash, loud and swooping. I have seen these guys from Altitude Filmworks in action before so I took notice. A carbon remote controlled octocopter complete with a DSLR, two operators, (one flight controller, and one camera operator) as well as Ryan Amirault, Whole Foods Digital Marketing Manager (perhaps he’ll throw WildSnow a tweet bone, or scone?), carefully looking on. They captured the scene from the air with amazing prescision–that is until it came to land the $10k five foot wide death rotor array. I offered to stop the procession of Subarus free of charge.

The operator duo carefully controlled the behemoth in the sky as Whole Foods Digital Marketing Manager was planning his tweet response if disaster struck.

The operator duo carefully controlled the behemoth in the sky as Whole Foods Digital Marketing Manager was planning his tweet response if disaster struck.

Lou really sent me to WF to see what our friend Richard from Vintage Ski World had contributed. For starters, two sandwich boards were artfully constructed of ski relics from yesteryear displaying local produce sales of the day.

I pity the soul who has to move this monster inside and out everyday.

I pity the soul who has to move this monster inside and out everyday.

I entered the dual automatic sliding doors to a familiar scene of fresh cut flowers, vegetables and fruits from every color of the spectrum, and complete pandemonium: shoppers hugging, smiling, jumping up and down, children screaming, and I think I even saw one lady shedding tears of joy.

Similar to Lou and Lisa in SLC my wallet was on the verge of vaporizing. The only problem is I live 5 milles from here instead of 350 to SLC.

Similar to Lou and Lisa in SLC my wallet was on the verge of vaporizing. The only problem is I live 5 miles from here instead of 350 to SLC.

Richards’s main contribution to the store was WF’s branded espresso station. Now you know how Whole Foods gets a blog post on WildSnow.com.

A red-eye was in order for me that morning.

A red-eye was in order for me that morning.

The seating area was also complete with subtle backcountry ski touches from yesteryear.

The seating area complete with ski motif. A place I probably will devour all of my groceries without even leaving the store.

The seating area complete with ski motif. A place where I'll probably devour all of my groceries without even leaving the store.

Plaques displayed the contributions by locals. Even the restrooms received matching ski signage.

Plaques displayed the contributions by locals. Even the restrooms received matching ski signage.

Well it’s safe to say I was glad to escape unharmed from the opening of every local food co-op’s nightmare. My wallet took a $10.52 hit in the form of espresso and scone, and I discovered upon leaving there were free samples in the parking lot. Doh!

Whereever you may shop for groceries, backcountry snacks, or just raid the olive bar while making endless “test” laps make sure you do so responsibly–to your wallet that is.

I almost made it out without spending a dime. Darn I hope this won't become a trend. ;)

I almost made it out without spending a dime. Darn I hope this won't become a trend. ;)

Comments

25 Responses to “Helicopters, Almond Milk, and Backcountry Artifacts — Whole Foods Comes to Town”

  1. Dostie August 16th, 2012 10:58 am

    In Truckee the local Whole Foods market, located in Reno, is also known as Whole Paycheck. ;)

  2. Rob August 16th, 2012 11:06 am

    Love the vintage skis! All those of us old enough to remember having to lean over and lock down a cable binding can reminisce at these great displays. Too bad there are no leather boots with laces….or perhaps those are over in the dairy section?

  3. matt August 16th, 2012 11:10 am

    Most products are priced below what City Market has them at. Supposdly, the City Market in El Jebel is the most profitable in the Kroeger chain. I talked to someone high up at WF and they said you will pay less here than in the Denver WF, because they are competing with City Market.
    Great TR by the way, is the truck a Raptor?

  4. Joe August 16th, 2012 11:24 am

    @Matt I did hear the same thing about pricing. Their products produced by the house-brand 365 I believe echo your thoughts and those high up.

    Not a Ford that’s for sure.

  5. Lou Dawson August 16th, 2012 12:06 pm

    Easy to beat our prices here in the Roaring Fork Valley, they’re similar to Anchorage, Alaska. No kidding. It’s ridiculous. Mainly the result of monopolies due to growth control. To fight it, we’ve resorted to grocery shopping for a lot of things at Walmart, but even the Walmart here has higher prices than normal.

    I actually don’t doubt that Whole Foods can equal other stores here if you shop smart, where they really empty your wallet is all the tasty stuff you just can’t resist. I’ll testify, guilty as charged.

    You guys who’ve never visited here would be stunned at the volume our few grocery stores do. They must sell insane amounts of stuff, and at the prices, they’re no doubt the profit leaders for their chain.

  6. Lou Dawson August 16th, 2012 12:07 pm

    Rob, I think the leather boots are over at the meat counter?

  7. Bob Baxter August 16th, 2012 12:08 pm

    Ah the dreaded WF salad/hot food bar, you fill your bowl and then watch the cash go. A place where culinary dreams begin and your beer budget ends.
    Any hits on what type of truck that is?

  8. Lou Dawson August 16th, 2012 12:18 pm

    I’d like to just call it an AK, but I think that’s inaccurate (grin). Come on Joe, what is that sweet thing?

  9. Lou Dawson August 16th, 2012 1:16 pm

    Someone just told me that is Sarah Palin’s truck.

  10. Dan August 16th, 2012 1:23 pm

    Say what y’all want about WF, but Allegro coffee (the french roast anyway) is great…To state the obvious Lou: try exercising some self-discipline when entering a WF store (you have lost it anyway just by entering?). Personally, I put on the blinders and head straight for the Allegro coffee section. If you think you have it rough in CO, here in WA, I have to drive 1.5 hours to Bellevue to get to the WF store and I don’t even have a Beemer. Furthermore, we must run the Bellevue gauntlet (See’s Candy, Marmot Mtn. Works, fancy ice cream shops, bakeries, and french restaurants, etc.) just to get to the WF parking lot…and then there is the vehicle fuel cost issue. At any rate, thanks for the amusing post and even better comments.

  11. Kaye August 16th, 2012 2:42 pm

    Are those the accommodations for the valets??

  12. Scott Nelson August 16th, 2012 7:21 pm

    What? Ladies crying for joy? Yoga pants? Shoppers hugging? Skis on walls? Could this be grocery nirvana?

    Being only a 5 minute walk from the new Whole Foods, I’ve yet to venture over there. Guess I’m just waiting to hear from those who took the plunge. Was it everything you dreamed of?

    And speaking of City Market El Jebel, it’s been interesting to watch their latest fury to remodel their store over the couple of months or so. All of a sudden…. they care. What a concept. I mean there were corporate types all over that store last week. I’ve never seen that in the 15 or so years we’ve been shopping there. Interesting.

    But bottom line for us is, where will we save the most money? And could I ride my steelie Bianchi to Whole Foods without being scorned? Oh but wait, at least it has carbon forks…

    And I think that truck is a Tacoma with some reworked front end or something. Couldn’t be Sarah’s, or Joe Biden would show up and have her shackled and taken away to North Carolina.

  13. Greg Louie August 16th, 2012 11:49 pm

    Yeah, Allegro is the real deal – the one in the alley off of 43rd in Seattle’s University District is, along with the Last Exit, the birthplace of Seattle espresso. The founder, Dave Olsen, went on to become the bean guru and buyer for Starbucks.

  14. Greg August 17th, 2012 5:57 am

    The mystery truck is a 2012 Toyota Tacoma. Lots of cosmetic work to make it look like an older Toyota. The owner registers all his vehicles (including several *very* high end sports cars) in AK for “tax reasons” and spends much of his time working in rural Africa (where the truck will end up sometime soon). More details of the modification process available here: http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/77748-Containerized-Retromod-Global-Tacoma/

  15. Lou Dawson August 17th, 2012 6:56 am

    Thanks Greg, good intel. Kaye, LOL!

  16. Joe August 17th, 2012 8:08 am

    Not a bad deal being contracted as an economist to travel sub sahara Africa by dream cars.

    The guys at Custom Cars Unlimited in La Grange, IL sure fooled me.

  17. Jack August 17th, 2012 8:44 am

    If CO grocery stores follow the same pattern as here in the Puritanical Northeast, more mainstream grocery stores will respond to the Whole Foods challenge by adding more grass-fed beef, buffalo, and other exotics at less astronomical prices. Once you’ve trained yourself to not flinch at wild salmon for $19/lb. you are home free.

  18. Njord August 17th, 2012 7:43 pm

    Good to see Altitude Filmworks still breaking the law…

  19. Mark W August 18th, 2012 10:40 pm

    Hilarious yet sprinkled with truisms. Yes, here in Fort Colins, the usual suspects troll the aisles at the Whole Foods, but there are farmers (with their trucks), and the occasional cowboy too. Even those right of center have been known to darken the door there! I like some of the 365 brand stuff. Competitve with other chain store pricing, and good quality.

  20. Terry August 22nd, 2012 10:14 am

    Dostie beat me to it re. Whole Paycheck. I’ve toured WF just once, out of curiosity, without buying anything. Local food co-ops are my preference. I can’t stand WF – equivalent to Starbucks in my book. Eeew!

  21. Ronald Cassiani August 23rd, 2012 7:35 am

    What you need is a Trader Joes

  22. RDE August 23rd, 2012 6:21 pm

    Lou, you haven’t spent much time shopping in Vancouver BC I take it? Makes Jackson and Aspen seem like one of the flyover places. Of course Canadians get paid a lot more per hour and have free health care—-.

    You’ve actually found FOOD at Walmart?

    Can’t be Sara’s truck– there are no moose antlers mounted on the hood.

  23. Lou Dawson August 23rd, 2012 6:42 pm

    The Snickers I bought at Walmart taste just the same as the ones I got at Whole Foods…. yeah, we pay more for health care and less for gasoline, go figure…

  24. Bar Barrique August 23rd, 2012 8:55 pm

    I agree that “the snickers bought at Walmart ” taste the same as those bought anywhere else. Retail has evolved, there is no going back to the “General Store”, and, the Blacksmith shop. This evolution has brought us an amazing array of BC ski gear.
    I enjoy some locally produced things like very nice bakery stuff, and, I like it when I get good service from a local ski shop, but, I don’t understand how it can be more ethical to buy commodity type stuff from one vendor or another.

  25. debra September 5th, 2012 9:14 am

    Great article!! Thanks for the info i look forward to checking it out!!

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