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Surrounded by business people dressed in dark suits, Will Paradise stood out during a tour he led of the soon-to-open Whole Foods market at Salt Lake City's Trolley Square shopping center.
Paradise, the chain's regional president, talked about Whole Foods' mission of changing the way Americans eat. But his attire said much more about healthy lifestyles. On a chilly Thursday morning, he was clad in riding shorts, tennis shoes and a cycling jacket that he also dons for bicycling and jogging.
Paradise had also had a big announcement. At 9 a.m. on March 14, the long-awaited Whole Foods at Trolley Square (544 S. 700 East ) will open its doors. In an interview after the tour, he said that a day earlier Whole Foods will close its nearby outlet at 645 E. 400 South to make way for the Trolley location and its 42,000 square feet of space. An adjoining 17,000 square feet has yet to be leased.
Whole Foods is an anchor store for the venerable shopping center's $60 million revitalization project, and its arrival also means that parking will be less of an issue.
The mall's new west-side garage has more than 200 spaces, while the Whole Foods' above-store garage offers an additional 200 stalls along with about a dozen 15-minute spaces, on the ground floor outside the market's east entrance.
Trolley Square, purchased by real-estate investment company ScanlanKemperBard Cos., or SKB, in August 2006, sits on nearly 14 acres. The property, built on an old trolley complex used until 1945, became a mall in the early 1970s. It had been spruced up over the years, but its biggest makeover has come in the past couple of years.
Despite the downturn, Pottery Barn has expanded from 10,000 square feet to 22,000, and other additions include retail buildings on the west side that have added 34,400 square feet, revitalized brick floors and a new glass elevator at center court.
Inside the Whole Foods store, shoppers will see a new rating system to promote animal welfare practices as part of a program the chain unveiled earlier this month.
Shoppers will choose poultry, beef and pork cuts based on five steps, ranging from no crates, cages or crowding to animals spending their entire lives on one farm. The system, devised by the nonprofit Global Animal Partnership, uses independent, third-party certifiers who audit more than 1,200 farms and ranches.
Paradise said the system provides a way to reward producers who incorporate sound animal welfare practices, and it gives shoppers a way to make more informed choices at the meat counter.
The store also features Whole Foods' familiar bulk foods aisles, and a fresh seafood department with catches flown in six mornings a week from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
And, like other Whole Foods stores, the deli, bakery and freshly prepared food counters are designed to attract lunch-hour diners.
Whole Foods has been in the forefront of supporting local growers, selling their products and helping them financially by dedicating $10 million annually to long-term, low-interest loans through its Local Producer Loan Program.
To help local charities, each store has quarterly Five-Percent Days, with 5 percent of proceeds going to community nonprofits. In 2009, stores raised more than $3.5 million.
Whole Foods started out in 1980 with one small store in Austin, Texas. Today, the chain has become a leader in natural and organic foods, with more than 300 stores in North America and the United Kingdom.
Whole Foods' Utah stores:
The chain's new lineup:
Salt Lake City, Trolley Square, 544 S. 700 East.
Set to open at 9 a.m. March 14.
Hours • 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
Salt Lake City, 645 E. 400 South.
Set to close at 7 p.m. March 13.
Sugar House, 1131 E. Wilmington Ave.
Hours • 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week
Cottonwood Heights, 6930 S. Highland Drive.
Hours • 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. seven days a week.
Park City, 1748 W. Redstone Center Drive.
Hours • 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.