Whole Foods Market announced Wednesday, Feb. 11, that it will open a store in the Lakeway Center next year.
The 50,000-square-foot store at 1030 Lakeway Drive is expected to open in the summer of 2016. It will go into the former home of The Market at Lakeway, which had a liquidation sale in mid-December 2013.
The store will be the first Whole Foods in Whatcom County and by the time it opens, the 11th such market in Washington state, according to the company.
It will employ 150 people full and part time.
“Bellingham is a terrific market. It’s been a long time coming,” said Susan Livingston, the company’s marketing director for the Pacific Northwest region.
Livingston said Whole Foods has been looking at the Bellingham market for years, but a number of factors made company leaders decide it was time to go into Whatcom County.
“The right site was there, the right partner and developer was there, the right mix in terms of competition and suppliers. We just think the time is perfect,” Livingston said.
Another factor was the fit between Whole Foods and Bellingham, which share a culture of passion for food and interest in natural and organic food, she said.
Although Whole Foods has four stores in Vancouver, B.C., the Lakeway store is expected to draw cross-border shoppers to Bellingham, with Livingston saying that B.C. shoppers also go to the Whole Foods in Lynnwood.
Still, Livingston said: “Our primary interest is in Whatcom County. It’s a very strong market in itself.”
In Washington state, the closest Whole Foods to Bellingham is the store in Lynnwood.
Whole Foods is leasing the Lakeway Drive space, which has been empty since The Market closed, from Ennen Brothers Partnership.
At 50,000 square feet, Livingston said the Whole Foods on Lakeway will be a little bigger than its other stores.
Whole Foods is known for its wide selection of natural and organic foods and also for featuring non-GMO products. The new store also will feature a butcher, fishmonger, baker and take-out meals.
It will have products grown and made in Whatcom County, since the grocer prides itself on its support of local producers and growers as well as local schools and nonprofits.
The eighth largest food and drug store in the U.S., Whole Foods has more than 87,000 employees and more than 400 stores in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. Its sales totaled $14.2 billion in fiscal year 2014, according to the company.
Whole Foods’ announcement comes at a busy time for the grocery industry in Whatcom County.
• Safewayjust opened
its 67,000-square-foot store atSunset Square
and its nearby gas station Friday, Feb. 6.
• The Community Food Co-opis doing a major expansion
project for its downtown Bellingham store.
• Bellingham-based Haggenis acquiring
146 Albertsons and Safeway stores.
• Costco has applied for building permits for a new location across from the Bakerview Fred Meyer, which recently remodeled its Bellingham stores.
• Bellingham Public Marketalso has expanded its space
at 1530 Cornwall Ave.