Whole Foods Market is not coming to play games.
The grocer is continuing its Long Island expansion with a mammoth location — 53,000 square feet — that is to open this year in Garden City, and which the developer described as a "flagship" store. Also, Whole Foods will open a 38,459-square-foot store in Massapequa next year in a former Babies R Us space, a real estate firm representative said.
Whole Foods has four existing Long Island stores, the newest of which opened in Commack in April 2019.
“Long Island has the type of demographic that [Whole Food Market] likes: densely populated, well-educated and income levels (in the communities they serve) that trend from upper-middle to upper,” said Jeff Metzger, publisher of Food Trade News in Columbia, Maryland, and a Wantagh native.
Whole Foods declined to comment.
The Garden City store, at 867 E. Gate Blvd., is being built on the site of a former Pepsi bottling plant, which was demolished, said Greg Blower, spokesman for the Town of Hempstead.
When I was in the area Thursday, it looked like the exterior of the new, two-story building was done, or nearly so.
The developer of the Whole Foods building is Midwood Investment & Development, a real estate firm based in Manhattan, said Kristen Krajewski, spokeswoman for Midwood.
The 6-acre property includes a free-standing HSBC Bank that opened in February, and in Midwood’s news release announcing the bank's opening, it describes the coming grocery store as a “flagship” Whole Foods. Midwood declined to comment on the grocer's plans.
But based on the new Whole Foods' size alone, I can see why it would be considered a flagship store. The four existing Whole Foods on Long Island range from 20,000 square feet to 47,500 square feet.
It could be the source of a grocery shake-up in the area.
The new Garden City store will be about a 3-minute drive from a Trader Joe's in The Gallery at Westbury Plaza. Though very different, the stores compete for some of the same customers, Metzger said.
Whole Foods is a fresh-format grocer, which means it differentiates itself primarily through the quality of its produce, meat and seafood, and in-store deli and bakery operations, while Trader Joe’s is a limited-assortment grocer, which is a discounter that sells a high percentage of its own, private-label brands, said Jim Hertel, senior vice president of analytics client development at Inmar, a retail industry analytics company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
But the planned exit of another grocery player might create opportunities for both.
A Fairway Market in nearby Westbury is slated to close between July 31 and Aug. 14.
In Massapequa, the planned Whole Foods will be in a former Babies R Us space, at 5214 Sunrise Hwy., in the Sunrise Promenade shopping center.
The grocery store is set to open in fall 2021, said Clifford Sondock, director of leasing at Spiegel Associates, the Jericho-based real estate developer that owns the shopping center.
Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods has 508 stores in North America and the United Kingdom, including 487 in the United States. Seattle-based Amazon bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017.
Retail Roundup is a column about major retail news on Long Island — store openings, closings, expansions, acquisitions, etc. — that is published online and in the Monday paper. To read more of these columns, click here. If you have news to share, please send an email to Newsday reporter Tory N. Parrish at email@example.com.