'We've been waiting for quite a while to have this open': Shoppers celebrate Whole Foods

Whole Foods opens its Eugene location to the public Wednesday, September 28, 2016. But Monday, the store opened its doors for a sneak peak event. The grocery store holds its products to high ingredient standards and even examines the way store items are sourced. Inside, shoppers will find an Ellenos yogurt concession shop, a Wandering Goat coffee kiosk, and several other prepared food options. (SBG photo)

EUGENE, Ore. - After nearly two years of planning, construction and anticipation, the new Whole Foods in downtown Eugene welcomed hundreds of customers to its grand opening Wednesday morning.

The early-morning opening caused slight traffic delays around the store.

Eugene Police were on scene to help direct cars.

The parking lot was full for most of the day, and some customers walked several blocks to avoid the crowded lot.

Despite the busy-ness on the outside, inside was a celebration complete with live music and free samples.

Kimberly DeForest traveled from Veneta for the grand opening.

"We absolutely love it and we'll definitely be back again," she said.

"We've been waiting for quite a while to have this open," said Whole Foods shopper Eddie Guylherme. "Because of the variety of things in here, and the way they got it organized, it's easy to find, and the prices are right."

Whole Foods fan Nancy Boecklin has been to five Whole Foods grand openings.

She said this one lived up to her expectations. "It's the presentation," said Boecklin. "Everything is always immaculately displayed."

For others, it was their first time walking into a Whole Foods.

"I'm trying my first organic foods, I think," said Patty Randklev from Veneta. "So that ought to be exciting."

Some customers waited in line for two hours before the store opened at 9 a.m., and the line was around the building. Even the bike parking was full. Some employees showed up before sunrise.

"I woke up at 4:30," said Mary Crowe, Whole Foods Market Engagement Coordinator. "It's hard to sleep the night before you open because it's just so exciting. The team members here have so much heart and passion"

Shelves are stocked with 500 local Northwest products and forty vendors are from from Lane County. That includes Wandering Goat Coffee Co., that roasts its beans in the Whitiker Neighborhood.

Some products are making their first supermarket debut, thanks to the Whole Foods Producer Partnership.

Whole Foods awarded Olympia Provisions, an Oregon-based charcuterie maker, with a loan for $100,000 to help get them started.

Crowe said all Whole Foods products are held to a high standards.

"We don't allow any artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or hydrogenated oils," says Crowe.

University of Oregon student Olivia Merlino lives near the market. She said she's excited about the location.

"This is great, I can ride my bike here," Merlino said. "Whole Foods is almost the only market that has everything you could ever imagine."

For the next eight Wednesdays, Whole Foods will donate five percent of the day's sales to a local non-profit. That starts October 5.

Whole Foods is located at 353 E Broadway. It's open from 7 a.m. - 10 p.m., seven days a week.

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