While residents of Harlem, Williamsburg, and the greater Gowanus area have been obsessively following local Whole Foods gossip, the company's been quietly putting the finishing touches on a space in midtown. Located in a new building on 57th between Second and Third Avenue, the spot is the brand's seventh in Manhattan. It's not one of the largest or flashiest locations, but it does have one thing that distinguishes it from all the other Whole Foods in the city: proximity to tons of students.
The store, which opens tomorrow, sits below two schools: PS 59 and the High School of Art & Design. As such, the unofficial themes of the space are education and art. Chalk drawings of famous artists hang all over the store. Whole Foods even asked Art & Design students to create tables inspired by famous paintings for their upstairs dining area. (Most of the tables plug the brand; one of them features Whistler's mother sitting next to a Whole Foods shopping bag.)
The other unofficial theme is locavore shopping, a topic that gets hit even harder here than in other Whole Foods. Many of the products—assembled by someone with the job title of "forager"—have names you might know from various flea markets and Brooklyn groceries, like Anarchy in a Jar and Liddabit Sweets. These are merchandised in a way that reminded us of the "Hometown Heroes" section at the opening of Madewell's Flatiron District store. The implication: You might be in a big national chain, but you're still buying locally.
Tomorrow's opening begins with a "bread breaking" ceremony at 8:30am. There will be coffee and giveaways, and Whole Foods will formally announce a donation pegged to the store. Since it's on 57th Street, they're giving 57 salad bars to schools around the city. Five percent of sales tomorrow will go towards that initiative, and they'll be fundraising for it throughout the fall.
· A Closer Look at Madewell's Tribute to Local Stores [Racked NY]
· 250 East 57th Street [Curbed NY]
· All Whole Foods coverage [Racked NY]