HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Hundreds of people crowded through two sliding doors as the two year wait for Whole Foods Market came to a close.
“This is like Alabama playing for the national championship, it means that much to me,” Keith Pylant said.
Pylant claimed the first spot in the parking lot on Saturday morning, hours before the grand opening, but a few hours of waiting is nothing for the former Californian who’s faithful to Whole Foods.
“About four years ago, I was encouraged to come back to Alabama and one of the main reasons I wouldn’t come back is cause they didn’t have a Whole Foods, at least in the Huntsville region,” Pylant said.
Pylant isn’t the only person grateful for the grocery store. One hundred and sixty-two people are now employed by Huntsville’s Whole Foods.
“They’re going to learn so much while they’re here as our team members,” Store Team Leader Jeremy Barnes said. “They’re also going to make $11.00 an hour which is a great starting wage.”
The 42,000 square foot store is large, but Whole Foods leaders don’t want a big building to drive away the small suppliers.
“We really have a strong focus on local, that’s a big passion for me as a store team leader,” Barnes said.
Whole Foods sought out local vendors earlier this year in preparation for Saturday’s opening. They’re still in communication with between 10 and 20 local vendors they hope will place their products in Whole Foods soon.
“We actually focus on pouring some of the funds into the local communities through our feed four more campaign but also our global community,” Barnes said. “When we say that we have a focus on local, we actually do.”