Correction: In the original version of this story, we incorrectly reported that sales for organic and natural retailers totaled $36 million in 2010. According to the organic foods research group NewHope360, sales totaled more than $36 billion. We apologize for the error.
Idaho’s first Whole Foods Market opens in Boise today. The Austin, Texas-based natural foods store has hired and trained 175 people from the local community to run the store.
Whole Foods Market pays a minimum of $10 an hour to its workers in the new Boise store. Those employees are also eligible for health and dental benefits. By comparison, Idaho’s minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
Dan Dolenar helps to manage the produce department. He worked at an established Boise grocery chain for 18 years, but he says he’s glad to be at Whole Foods.
“I’ve been treated as if I’m family, and that to me is important,” Dolenar says.
Whole Foods has partnered with 50 local vendors to help provide everything from organic vegetables, to beer and buffalo meat.
Ben Friedland oversees marketing for Whole Foods in the Rocky Mountain region. He says the company started to look at Boise six years ago to build a store but the recession delayed plans. Friedland says the excitement around this store has been remarkable.
“Our pre-opening tours – before this store – our record for selling out those tours was five days, and we sold these out in three hours," says Friedland. "So it’s been absolutely immense the welcome we’ve received from the community and the demand that people have to come in and see inside the four walls of the store.”
According to NewHope 360, a natural foods research group, sales for natural and organic retailers totaled about $36 million in 2010 (see note above). That is a seven percent increase from the year before.
Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio