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Central Market And Whole Foods
Open In Dallas

A hat tip to Karen Silverston, Contributing Editor, PRODUCE BUSINESS and DELI BUSINESS for letting us know about the same day opening of new stores in Dallas by both HEB’s Central Market concept and Whole Foods. Looks like the Pundit will have to visit Dallas shortly. In the meantime, The Dallas Morning News had this to say:

Two of the most closely watched U.S. specialty food chains — both with roots deep in the heart of Texas — are putting their faith in Dallas-area residents to help them define their next steps in food retailing.

The Central Market at the Shops of Southlake has a restyled store layout, a large cheese department, a café with a waitstaff and a playground.

Competitors known for their innovations, Whole Foods Market Inc. and H.E. Butt Grocery Co.’s Central Market swear it’s just a coincidence that they’re each opening their chain’s next-generation stores in D-FW today. In Southlake, shoppers will help Central Market decide if it’s landed on the right suburban concept to make the leap outside of Texas.

In Dallas, the new Whole Foods at Preston Road and Forest Lane will help the Austin-based chain decide if it’s going to become a major spa operator.

“This is our only spa, and no other spa has someone doing your grocery shopping for you while you’re getting a spa treatment,” said Nona Evans, Whole Foods’ marketing director.

Central Market has heard visitors asking for a store in major cities on the East and West coasts and in Chicago, said Stephen Butt, head of San Antonio-based H-E-B’s Central Market division, which is headquartered in Dallas…

“We find that very encouraging because there are a limited number of Central Market stores that we can build in Texas cities,” Mr. Butt said.

“And the Plano, and now the Southlake, shoppers will help us grow beyond the urban parts of larger cities.”

One way it’s testing that is with a Central Market Café that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with outdoor seating for 200, a stage for entertainment and a playground with a castle and a friendly dragon.

Both chains have been raising the bar for grocery shopping in the area over the years, and traditional supermarket operators have responded….

While both chains’ next-generation stores similarly take key departments such as cheese and prepared foods to the next level, they still reflect their roots.

“We all share shoppers, but our two brands have different roots,” Mr. Butt said.

“Whole Foods is rooted in organics, and we’ve made a culinary commitment. … They take a stand on what they will and won’t sell. We sell variety and let the customer decide their nutritional views.”

Texas has perhaps the most interesting retail markets in the United States. Dallas is also the sight of both an “upscale” Wal-Mart supercenter and a “green” supercenter.

HEB is absolutely the most effective competitor against Wal-Mart, which is interesting because the whole Central Market concept — a separate brand dedicated to the service of upscale consumers is similar to what we proposed that Wal-Mart do in our piece Hormel — Wal-Mart And the Meaning Of Upscale.

The article is interesting because it indicates that Whole Foods, which has been struggling a bit lately with slowing same store sales growth, sees its brand as going into spas and other things beyond food. Stephen Butt of HEB’s Central Market sees its growth path outside of Texas.

Click here for a brochure and floorplan from the Southlake Central Market Store and here for a brochure and floorplan from the Preston Forest Whole Foods.

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