That’s the question running along Rockville Pike this week as the long-established grocer moves to new digs. Not just a new store, but a big one, almost twice the size of the crowded space it had a couple of miles away. For a company that has been in this part of Maryland for 20 years, they are demonstrating a new lifeblood as they open one of their bigger stores at 51,000 square feet.
Besides ample room to negotiate the aisles, what else is new in this brightly lit environment? Where does one begin? Maybe with the fact that they have a butcher on site. That works for me as the profession has been slowly facing the death knell. To help the butcher have a bold presence, there’ll be no shortage of great aromas as the meat department has its own smoker for ribs and brisket, a Kosher selection, and dry-aged meats.
The fish and seafood counter may remind you a bit of the way hotels are reaching out and getting away from the front desk concept. In this department, the staff will come out from behind the counter and help you select your items. The more personalized, interactive, approach is something that will be evident throughout the entire store.
Name a department and put them to the test. They’ve got you covered. Start with take-away, prepared foods. You’ll be swimming in possibilities from the hot 850 degree pizza oven that promises a Neapolitan selection in 90 seconds to the new Arepas section for your cornmeal cake. Too daring, then step over to the burger and hot dog station. Some other changes right there: An organic salad bar. Now that takes the guesswork out of decision-making! They’ll even have smaller, more affordable prepared salads in the cases.
As for what’s truly different: Cooking Rockville promises to take the guesswork out of “How do I prepare this food, ingredient?” They have a staff of cooking coaches ready to assist in an inviting space with a wall of spices and grains as a backdrop! This area should help more shoppers take the next step into adventuresome, reality cooking, what they call CIY, Cooking It Yourself. They’ll champion you.
The company seems focused on addressing an age-old problem: Affordability. They are conscious of what’s involved for every shopper and stress their new focus: competitive everyday prices, over 2,000 sale items per month, and plenty of weekly specials. When you add that up and throw in the emphasis on fresh, organic, and local, you have followed the Market to its next step.
It’s always fun to go to a new grocer or restaurant preview. This outing was no exception. Yes, Whole Foods has shown that shopping does not have to be dull. Always fun to see new departments stretch the possibilities and respond to the latest trends.
Grab a basket. It’s opening day!