Whole Foods Market Noe Valley (www.SocketSite.com)
Seven months ago Whole Foods Market was given the green light to convert (but not raze and rebuild) the shuttered Bell Market on 24th Street in Noe. Wednesday at 10 am Whole Foods Market Noe Valley opens its doors (with a 9:45 am bread-breaking before).
At the same time, Aveda, GNC and Streetlight Records (neighboring, neighboring, and across the street) have since closed while Real Foods remains dormant.
UPDATE: The inside scoop from a plugged-in reader:

WFM management has specifically canvassed the neighborhood and have reduced their offerings of items that have excellent local store representation. Floral, Pet Dept, and Cheese in particular have smaller offerings than a regular WFM store because the neighborhood is already well served.

Their front-end team has been collecting cards from *all* local businesses. When people complain “Why don’t you carry X, Y, Z?” they are to direct the customer to the local business 4 doors down that does carry it rather than start carrying it themselves.

The hope is that the small parking lot will serve as a natural rate limiter on the number of shoppers. There are 4 full service checkout lanes and 4 express and that’s it.

PS. All the breads are sourced from the local Boulange chain and all their prepared foods are made by local caterers and food companies. This is the first WFM store to not make anything on site, at all. Boulange is delivering fresh bread 2x a day. There aren’t even any finishing ovens in the store!

Cheers.
UPDATE (9/30): As another plugged-in reader notes, La Boulange is planning to open down the block this fall where Noe Valley Pizza recently closed their doors.
Whole Foods Green-Lighted In Noe (And As Proposed On Market) [SocketSite]
Noe Bagel’s Days Might Be Numbered. Now About Next Door… [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by dub dub

    Solvency taxes included!
    Glad they kept the parking lot, but I’m afraid that pumpkin patch is better suited to an Albertson’s :)

  2. Posted by eNoee

    I hope everyone is cool with a single vendor for grocery, beauty products, flowers and music. By this I’m referring to the Safeway at 30th and Mission which serves outer Noe quite well. They have a brand called ‘Organics’ which has been satisfying all the folks who will be shopping exclusively at Whole Foods starting tomorrow.

  3. Posted by OneEyedMan

    Smug pumpkins smiling
    Noe Valley October
    I don’t belong here

  4. Posted by Lookielew

    Wahoo La Brea Bread for the freezer! I sure hope the existing florists, chocolatier,bakeries and other such stores will keep their share of customers.

  5. Posted by Eric in SF

    (My partner is one of the ‘senior’ staffers selected from around the region to help open this store.)
    WFM management has specifically canvassed the neighborhood and have reduced their offerings of items that have excellent local store representation. Floral, Pet Dept, and Cheese in particular have smaller offerings than a regular WFM store because the neighborhood is already well served.
    Their front-end team has been collecting cards from *all* local businesses. When people complain “Why don’t you carry X, Y, Z?” they are to direct the customer to the local business 4 doors down that does carry it rather than start carrying it themselves.
    The hope is that the small parking lot will serve as a natural rate limiter on the number of shoppers. There are 4 full service checkout lanes and 4 express and that’s it.

  6. Posted by Eric in SF

    PS. All the breads are sourced from the local Boulange chain and all their prepared foods are made by local caterers and food companies. This is the first WFM store to not make anything on site, at all. Boulange is delivering fresh bread 2x a day. There aren’t even any finishing ovens in the store!

  7. Posted by gh

    Enlightening info Eric, thanks.

  8. Posted by insidesfre

    Is the guy in front of the organized autumnal selection warding off thieves? Though I think Whole Foods will be great for Noe Valley residents & property values, I am hoping businesses like Drewes, Noe Valley Cheese Co and other wine vendors can hang on. Will not stop patronizing them. But go, change.

  9. Posted by deshard

    I shop at WF occasionally and if you shop smart it won’t break the bank. Their 365 brand is pretty good and they have specials throughout the store.
    It isn’t Whole Paycheck anymore if you know what you’re doing.

  10. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    I’ve never left a Whole Foods with a bill under $125. Ever. Too many tempting foodie treats in there.
    I avoid it at all costs now as a result.

  11. Posted by Mark

    Business tends to promote more business. I live at 16th and Dolores — and I am far MORE likely to shop 24th street now — I NEVER go there today.

  12. Posted by joh

    With regards to their 365 brand, it is WF policy to charge the same as Trader Joe’s. Many other products are competitively priced, even cheaper than Lucky’s or Safeway.
    So as deshard said, it doesn’t have to be expensive.
    Another reasons to go is the nice selection of items that are lacking at other supermarkets.

  13. Posted by lolcat_94123

    “The hope is that the small parking lot will serve as a natural rate limiter on the number of shoppers.”
    Yeah, because that works so well for that Trader Joe’s on Masonic. That line of cars is always at least a block long whenever I drive by.

  14. Posted by EH

    eNoeee: You’re kidding, right? The produce at 30/Mission Safeway makes freeganism look appealing.
    Church St. Produce and Drewes take care of 90% of my shopping. With Whole Foods’ Darwinistic attitude toward health-care reform, you aren’t going to see me at that store unless it’s a dire emergency.

  15. Posted by TiredOfIdiocy

    “With Whole Foods’ Darwinistic attitude toward health-care reform, you aren’t going to see me at that store unless it’s a dire emergency.”
    Spend too much time on The Internets for your fact-finding? Maybe you should actually ask a Whole Foods employee how good their health-care options are before you shoot your mouth off.

  16. Posted by glennz

    Was never a Whole Foods fan……but I’ll shop there because of the CEO’s statement on commie healthcare. I worked for the NHS in England and it sucks balls. Tiredofidocy should move there.
    What is with the silly attitude of not competing with other shops though..? Is this a business or what…….hopefully they are just blowing gentle smoke out their arse to the hippies in the hood who are horrified that people might actually shop, with a vehicle.

  17. Posted by brid

    I live on 24th up the hill and can’t wait for WFM to open.
    Bell was getting worse & worse. The enterprise was obviously failing and it was reflected in the offerings & service, even after the much vaunted redo 5 or 6 years ago.
    24th between Castro & Dolores has, at minimum, a dozen shuttered businesses which add nothing to the neigborhood.
    WFM, welcome! Sup. Dufty – keep working on the Mormon losers that are Real Foods. That would be the second anchor store that would get 24th back on its feet again. Every other vendor is looking forwards to the increased foot-traffic, esp. the bars & restaurants.

  18. Posted by anon

    ^Bell wasn’t “failing,” it was being ignored. When Kroger shut down the rest of their Northern California operations four or five years ago (the Ralphs in the rest of the Bay that they picked up when Albertsons bought American Food Stores and had to sell some Luckys to complete the merger), they only kept the SF stores open because of their plans to sell off the real estate (the SF stores were not leased, by and large). The Cala on Hyde and this store were just the last two to go.

  19. Posted by Dan

    Bevan should further loosen the Noe Valley restaurant moratorium, and let the Real Food space be turned into a restaurant:
    http://www.noevalleyvoice.com/2005/November/Rest.html
    With Whole Foods on 24th St, who cares if Real Food reopens?

  20. Posted by Kurt Brown

    Whole Foods in Noe
    Do we feel good shopping there?
    Discuss at Starbucks

  21. Posted by Mike B

    How sad that the neighborhood forced this Whole Foods not to make anything fresh IN THE STORE. I can’t believe Whole Foods complied with this crap.

  22. Posted by Dan

    This Whole Foods is much smaller than a usual WF. They don’t have space to offer everything found at larger stores.

  23. Posted by lolcat_94123

    lol@Kurt Brown’s haiku. That’s awesome.

  24. Posted by Rick

    @Mike I thought the lack of some common Whole Foods services were more about space constraints than anything else. This will be the smallest Whole Foods around.

  25. Posted by been there

    Anyone know if / when the Haight gets that WF on Stanyan?
    [Editor's Note: The 690 Stanyan Project Scoop: Scaled Back To An Interior Gutting.]

  26. Posted by BernalDweller

    “Spend too much time on The Internets for your fact-finding?”
    No need for the Internets to find the Darwinistic attitude towards health care. The editorial was in the WSJ. What they offer employees is no bed of roses. The opinion was that of John Mackey.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204251404574342170072865070.html
    Mr. Mackey is co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market Inc.
    It was wholly supportive of worthless tweaks to the status quo, which most believe to be Darwinistic and broken, a la “high deductible policies,” etc. Good luck with your serious illness on the Whole Foods benefit plan.

  27. Posted by Mystery Realtor

    Can someone tell me why Trader Joe’s was not allowed to open a store at Sanchez and Market and Whole Foods was encouraged (to use the term mildly to come into Noe Valley?

  28. Posted by DanRH

    Editor, just to add, La Boulange is set to open this fall as well (neighboring).

  29. Posted by WFM or WTF?

    LOL there is more free enterprise in Vietnam, Cambodia and Loas than San Francisco….

  30. Posted by TiredOfIdiocy

    What Mackey offers his employees is choice, and the ability for them to make decisions on their healthcare. That indeed is a big bed of roses compared to what some are advocating.
    Actually the “tweaks” he’s proposing are more revolutionary than what our congress is debating, even with a “single payer option.” It changes the structure of the healthcare system. Single payer just gives this mess to taxpayers without fixing the inherent problems that our system has today.
    Or you can just continue to keep your head in the DailyKoz/HuffPo sand and bleat single payer until you’re blue in the face.

  31. Posted by pumpkin patch

    I am a Whole Foods shopper by defacto. I live a few blocks from their Franklin Street store.
    Whole Foods is not Trader Joes.
    Whole Foods is not Safeway.
    Good grief, please don’t compare WF to the above.
    1. Whole Foods has better produce and meats than either Safeway and TJ. Hands down.
    2. Whole Foods definitely has better prices than Safeway Organic brands.
    And, I think WF has shown good politics by not offering what local businesses in the area sell. Kudos to WF.
    Just because a corporation is not headquartered in San Francisco does not mean it is evil! I have a lot of respect for WF. I wish other corporations were as respectful to its environment and its communities!

  32. Posted by Kurt Brown

    @Mystery Realtor:
    Can someone tell me why Trader Joe’s was not allowed to open a store at Sanchez and Market and Whole Foods was encouraged (to use the term mildly to come into Noe Valley?
    It’s night and day for the two properties. Have you looked at either of them? It’s kind of immediately apparent when you do (I’m a former Noe resident and Bell Market shopper, now a resident on Sanchez, near 15th).
    The proposed Sanchez/Market lot (the old Dulux Paint store, now a Chase bank) is a postage stamp compared to the Bell Market lot. The Trader Joe’s proposal couldn’t fit enough parking on the property, guaranteeing a nightmarish impact on the already nightmarish parking situation in the hood. The 3-way 15th/Sanchez/Market intersection created too many traffic engineering problems for the expected volume of car traffic (i.e. would have created backups/jams on both Market and Sanchez).
    Folks in this hood would have probably appreciated a Trader Joes nearby (I know I would have), but that tiny lot was way too small for a store with that kind of space, parking, and traffic volume requirements. Unfortunately, a bank is a little bit too much in the opposite direction. Pretty sleepy. But hey, at least it’s a nicer neighbor than an abandoned paint store.

  33. Posted by Dan

    TiredofIdiocy: A catastrophic coverage high deductible plan might work for WF employees, who are mostly young and healthy, but a $2500 deductible plan is not the solution to our health care problems.
    Single payer is different from the public option that is being considered. Medicare is single payer for the elderly, but the “public option” would be just one of many options for everyone else.
    Each is worth debating. High deductible plans are cheaper, but discourage preventive care important in people in middle age, like going to the doctor to have one’s blood pressure and cholesterol monitored, colonoscopies and other cancer checks.
    Single payer gives a lot of power to government, but that includes the power to control costs, such as negotiating for lower drug costs.
    The “public option” allows a government plan to compete with private insurance, as a check against excessive administrative costs or money diverted to shareholder profits.

  34. Posted by zzzzzz

    I find it astonishing that WF would voluntarily limit its offerings in deference to the local merchants. Yes, I’m sure that decision may have assuaged some chain-store phobia, but in the end it just diminishes consumer choice. Sad state of affairs indeed!

  35. Posted by Eric in SF

    My personal take is that the Noe Valley Merchant Association is more powerful and less public than that other merchant association in that Italian neighborhood near downtown…..

  36. Posted by movingback

    Stopped by about 6:00PM this evening – have to admit, this store is great. Just the right size. They did a great job with the renovation, keeping the original space. Selections were somewhat limited compared to the larger stores but still plenty to choose from. The buzz was definitely back on 24th Street. Welcome Whole Foods!

  37. Posted by TiredOfIdiocy

    Do you understand how HSAs work, Dan?
    Yes, there is a $2500 deductible, but Whole Foods (like all companies that have this plan — I happen to be under one like this coverage from my employer, and I’m not that young), gives its employees money in their account to cover a good chunk of those expenses. And if I don’t use it this year, it rolls to next year — if I get $1000 in my HSA and don’t use it, it becomes $2000 next year.
    In other words, I make the call on how to use my money and I do benefit from not “overusing” the medical system. Supply and demand signals finally reconnect, which frankly is the main problem we have healthcare.
    Single payer is just a form of price controls, if that’s what people are hoping. Lowering costs arbitrarily (which is basically what government does) just removes supply from the system, as we all found out under Nixon.

  38. Posted by Dan

    TOI, I’m a doctor, so I do understand how this works. You assume that the problem with our health system is that healthy people are “overusing the system.” HSAs reduce that, but I don’t think that is a major reason for skyrocketing health costs.
    The problem with your logic is that even with HSAs, there isn’t a free market for health care now– consumers have too little choice to save money other than not getting health care.
    Single payer does allow a counterbalance to negotiate down costs with drug companies and hospitals, and has much lower administrative costs than our current system. But single payer isn’t on the table right now, anyway.

  39. Posted by Solis

    WF is great and I welcome it to the neighborhood (a whole lot more convenient for me than driving to Portrero or SOMA and less aggravating than going to Safeway where there never seems to be enough shopping carts (or clean ones for that matter) and non-service dogs are roaming the aisles with their guardians.

  40. Posted by D

    WF voluntarily limits its items so as to not piss off other merchants. Yeah, that’ll last long. I predict these “limits” will slowly drop away as more people become comfortable with WF in Noe.
    As for sourcing from a real bakery, perhaps their bread won’t be moldy. Every time I’ve bought bread from the WF on Franklin, it’s been moldy. Disgusting.

  41. Posted by TiredOfIdiocy

    Dan, the problem is that medical insurance is tied to employment, and mostly up to the employer to determine what healthcare their employees receive.
    If you’re really a doctor, then tell everyone how your experience is dealing with getting Medicare reimbursements. Under single payer, that gets *even worse*.

  42. Posted by anon

    ^He should also tell how easy it is dealing with the various insurance company bureaucracies.
    Why do you keep bringing up single payer? No one is even advocating that, and it’s never even been on the table this summer? Why the strawman?

  43. Posted by Dan

    I’ve visited my Canadian doctor friends, and seen their billing, and billing under their a single payer system is much, much, much, much easier than under our multipayer system.

  44. Posted by TiredOfIdiocy

    The public option was only now just shot down in committee this week. Are you not paying attention to what’s happening in Washington?
    Hardly a strawman.
    If you have Canadian doctor friends, you also know that most of them would rather practice here.
    As a doctor (if you really are), Dan, than I hope you understand that if we were to go under single payer, they won’t just be enforcing price limits with drug companies, they will be enforcing price controls that will impact your salary as well.
    Given government’s track record of “reducing administrative costs,” I don’t buy that a single payer would fix that, and nor should you.

  45. Posted by El-D

    The public option was only now just shot down in committee this week. Are you not paying attention to what’s happening in Washington? Hardly a strawman.
    Public option != single payer.

  46. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Administrative costs in both Medicare and the Veterans Administration are a fraction of what HMOs charge. The VA in particular has done an amazing job of increasing efficiencies in their delivery of health care.
    Those are the real facts, not what some tired ideology tells you.
    The public option did not make it out of the Finance committee of The Senate, but still exists in the House Bill. It can still be brought back in via amendment or reconciliation, so I wouldn’t sound Taps for it just yet. The Senate leadership can always forgo their desired plan of getting 60 votes and just pass it with a majority.

  47. Posted by AC

    Only in San Francisco can a discussion board about a grocery store opening turn into a debate on health care.

  48. Posted by anon

    TOI – Well, I guess I’ll sign off here. It’s hard to argue with someone who doesn’t understand the various terms of debate. Public option does NOT equal single payer. Not at all. They’re not even close to referring to the same thing. A public option has been on the table. Single payer has never been on the table.

  49. Posted by TiredOfIdiocy

    Step 1: Public Option
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: Single Payer!

  50. Posted by anon

    ^Good to see you’ve finally admitted to using hyperbolic strawmen.

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