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California and the West

Whole Foods Plans New Store Concept

September 23, 2005|From Reuters

Whole Foods Market Inc. said Thursday that it was set to open its first "lifestyle" store in California in late October, with plans to sell clothing, housewares and hemp curtains -- everything, it seems, except food.

The new store concept from Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods, the leading U.S. natural and organic food retailer, will make its debut on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.

"The opening of this store is interesting. It is showing that Whole Foods is thinking of ways it can build strong brand equity," said Neil Currie, a retail analyst with investment bank UBS. "It's a sensible approach and a low-risk way of the company testing out a new concept to move into new product categories."

The store will offer products such as organic cotton denim bluejeans, recycled handbags and less-toxic paint.

The Edun Clothing line by U2 lead singer Bono will be sold at the store, along with organic-fiber T-shirts from American Apparel of Los Angeles. World music and collections of sustainable-living books and magazines also will be available.

The store is being built and decorated with environmentally friendly materials, such as hemp curtains and reused furniture.

According to the Organic Consumer Assn., 2005 sales of organic and natural products is expected to total more than $45 billion, accounting for nearly 10% of all retail grocery sales across America.

Whole Foods shares, which have risen 34% year to date, fell $1.23 to $128.13.

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