An employee adds labels to the brew cooler at Whole Foods in Augusta Saturday afternoon.
An employee adds labels to the brew cooler at Whole Foods in Augusta Saturday afternoon.

W hole Foods Market in Augusta opens on Tuesday the 23rd at 9 a.m. After taking a tour Saturday afternoon they will lucky to get any sleep between now and then. They got lots of do to get ready.
Whole Foods, located in the old Jumbo Sports location, was conducting 30-45 minute tours of the huge store Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It required a reservation and a suggested donation of $5 for Augusta Locally Grown.
It’s a nice store with some interesting extras not found at other grocery stores “wholesome” or otherwise. They’ve got the whole body products you’d expect along with fruits and veggies. But then there’s “The Roast,” a build your own bowl food line that features Brazilian-style spit roasted meats. There’s all sorts of bulk spices….bring your own jars as they don’t supply plastic bags. And there’s a special snack area for kids when you sign up. Did I mention the miniature golf putting course?
The Roast at Whole Foods
The Roast at Whole Foods

How The Roast  works
How The Roast works

During the tour we were told lots of stuff…. but with all of the hammering and beeping from scissor lifts it was kinda hard to hear anything. They’ve got a lot of work remaining to open Tuesday morning.
Prepping the  Pick Six
Prepping the Pick Six

Where possible they use locally produced products… veggies, meat, and of interest to me… brew. They have a cooler full of beer that features a lot and I mean a lot, of Southern Breweries. Many of the more popular brews from the recent Brewfest are there. And those local brews are in the Build-a-Six section (Pick 6). Other local grocery stories brag about their Build-a-Six sections but then load it with nothing but brews from the larger breweries and never contain local brews or very few.
You can pick local brews at Vineyard Wine Market, Wine World and Toast but you can’t at Kroger’s or Publix. I am very impressed with their selection in the Pick-6. They are supposed to have a growler station but there was no evidence of it during our visit. Our guide, Leilana, told me it would be ready on Tuesday. She is from Whole Foods’ Wilmington store and was in town to help.
3 Wishes
Leilani, our guide (green shirt)

The other thing that caught my eye and serves my mission of reviewing wines under $10, they have a line of wines called “Three Wishes.” $2.99 a bottle or $32.99 a case. (Chard, Cab and Merlot) This looks like a competitor for Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck. Guess I got to wait until Tuesday to see if it’s worth $2.99.
I found a Goldmine.. sort of
I found a Goldmine.. sort of

Everywhere I looked there was a display of brew or wine. At the checkout there was a large display of Goldmine Lager which appears to be an economy brew (i.e. cheap). Their website says it’s out of Rochester, NY. After several web searches they seem to be part of Genesee Brewing Co. / Dundee Brewing Co. That raised a question. Would I buy this brew or one of the tall-boy six-packs of Pabst I saw? I think the answer is no. Well, I guess they’ve got to have something for all tastes. (Beer is a good wholesome way to kill slugs in the garden).
Along the way we had several samples, from cheese (I failed to mention their custom cheese area) to shrimp. On exit we got a shopping bag of goodies including some steel cut oats.
Leilani, from Whole Foods Wilmington Store, conducted our tour
Leilani, from Whole Foods Wilmington Store, conducted our tour. She’s standing at the Concierge counter.

How will this new store impact other stores such as Earth Faire and Fresh Market? I think this store will impact their sales during the day. Earth Fare opened as kind of a introductory store for the folks out in Columbia County who wanted to eat fresh or organic and didn’t want the hassle of Washington Road (where Fresh Market is located). This new store takes the customers educated at Earth Fare and Fresh Market’s expense and offers them a lot more. Funny how Earth Fare has started running full page ads in the paper. Fresh Market spent a lot of money modernizing their store. I still like shopping there when it’s convenient. (Their Pick-6 is horrible).
The big question is at night. Everyone in Augusta knows that the parking lot starts filling at 6PM with folks eating at Outback and Bonefish Grill. Finding a parking space has always been a pain. Unless they have armed guards providing spaces for Whole Foods, good luck shopping there at night. With Outback now serving lunch it might be a challenge to stop by Whole Foods for lunch.
Although I try and spread my business around local stores and especially locally owned stores (I refuse to buy wine or beer from Costco) I will try Whole Foods. I’ll have to see their growler station before I can do any comparisons to Gravity Growlers but I suspect that Whole Foods just might educate the brew public to growlers and build new business for Gravity.
So, with that I say “welcome” to Whole Foods.

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