Whole Foods looks at opening a Schererville store

2013-08-13T17:09:00Z 2013-09-12T18:41:20Z Whole Foods looks at opening a Schererville storeJoseph S. Pete joseph.pete@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com

SCHERERVILLE | Northwest Indiana foodies may soon get a new destination where they can stock up on organic kale, quinoa and a wide assortment of cheeses.

High-end grocer Whole Foods Market is looking at opening a store in Schererville, a company spokesman said.

Schererville officials said a formal announcement would be made at a Wednesday meeting.

Whole Foods has been in talks about opening a store in the Shops on Main shopping center just north of the Omni Health & Fitness on Indianapolis Boulevard, said Town Council President Rob Guetzloff.

Northwest Indiana residents have been lobbying for years to bring the organic and specialty food grocery chain to the region. They have started Facebook pages asking for a Whole Foods, emailed the company real estate tips and demographic information, and told employees at the Orland Park store they would like a Whole Foods closer to home.

Whole Foods pays attention to such appeals, and considers them when choosing new sites, said Keith Stewart, the Midwest regional spokesman.

"We're always on the lookout for new locations," Stewart said. "Our team has been talking with Schererville about opening a new Whole Foods location there."

Whole Foods has not yet signed a lease, and the deal will not be finalized until then, Stewart said.

Stewart said it would be too early to comment on details, such as how many employees the store would have or when it would open. Whole Foods does not have a one-size-fits-all template when it comes to stores.

"The stores are all snowflakes," he said. "They're designed to be right for the community."

The Austin, Texas-based company, which has been selective about where it opens new stores, is known for settling in more affluent neighborhoods. Whole Foods looks at criteria such as whether 200,000 people live within a 20-minute drive and if a large number of those residents are college-educated.

Whole Foods also considers feedback from people who ask for a store to open near them, Stewart said. All emails and comments submitted on its website about possible locations go directly to the company's real estate team, which picks new sites.

"The most important thing is a community with an expectation of great quality food," Stewart said. "We have stores in Beverly Hills, in Lincoln Park in Chicago and in Midtown Detroit. We serve different communities."

Whole Foods is in an expansion mode nationwide, Stewart said. The grocer currently has about 340 stores, and aims to have 1,000 locations across the country. A new grocery just opened this year in Mishawaka.

Developer Bruce Boyer and property manager Regency Centers lobbied to bring Whole Foods to Shops on Main for the past six to eight months, Guetzloff said. The grocer also had been considering a Munster location.

"We're very pleased to see Whole Foods coming to Schererville," he said. "It's an upscale store, and it will invite more upscale retail."

Whole Foods has 18 other Chicago-area locations and a distribution center in Munster.

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