Toledo Talk

Whole Foods on Hold?

Heard from a friend who knows a guy who knows a guy who was talking to a guy who said that the Toledo Whole Foods construction has been put on hold. Wonder what's happening there?

created by Clancy on Feb 12, 2017 at 06:30:09 pm     Comments: 38

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It's being discussed in this thread: http://toledotalk.com/cgi-bin/tt.pl/article/193294/12Jul2015/West_Toledo_Krogers_development_conversation

posted by upso on Feb 12, 2017 at 06:37:16 pm     #  

Sad news if it's true.

Doesn't make much sense though seeing the place is almost done. I'm sure WFM has to pay rent on that space regardless of if they are open for business or not, doesn't make a lot of sense unless they are loosing so much money that the losses from having the store operating are more than the rent.

posted by classylady on Feb 13, 2017 at 12:30:17 pm     #  

The gist, from the thread linked and other discussions: Whole Foods' huge "365" brand expansion hasn't been making the money they'd hoped, so they're slowing things down a bit. All involved say it's still definitely happening, just over a longer timeline (additional 9-12 months) than originally planned. Something like 17 stores are being slowed down, so this is a store-wide thing, not a Toledo thing.

posted by Johio83 on Feb 13, 2017 at 12:40:00 pm     #  

i swung by the store last evening... lights were on and although they frosted the windows there were stills places to see inside the store...

a large island of coolers similar to the fresh market island has already been installed. so have 5 or 6 counter height (6' X 20' maybe) freezers/coolers for self service. built-in wall coolers are in as well along back and side walls. there are essentially no conventional shelving units or check out counters and wall/ceiling finishes are not in place. the interior site is also neat and orderly telling me they dont have any in progress projects they are working on... construction appears to be at a complete halt.

posted by enjoyeverysandwich on Feb 14, 2017 at 06:25:34 pm     #  

It would be interesting to know if there is any kind of "store must be open for business no later than "XX/XX/XXXX" clause in their contract.

posted by Foodie on Feb 15, 2017 at 09:45:22 am     #  

Foodie, I don't imagine there is. Having owned a small business myself (storefront) years ago, I know that when you rent a place you're on the hook for all rental costs whether your business is "open" or not. It's got to be painful for WF to be paying rent and utilities on so many high-end commercial properties without being able to open the doors.

I was reminded of a past thread from long ago that hypothesized that Toledo, being a smaller market lagging behind Chicago and Detroit, has always received the tail end of development trends. By the time investors think about doing it here, whatever "it" is, "it" is already obsolescing on the national scene.

Support facts: Canal industry. Beautiful downtown train station. Multiple enclosed malls. Outdoor rock concert venue (was it Rossford? The hump of dirt was still visible when I moved to town years ago). Competing lifestyle centers.

All of them fading into insignificance or at best, sputtering along with reduced ambitions.

So an argument could be made that projects fail in Toledo not because our local officials are doofuses or because our population can't support developments above the tacos-and-beer level, but because by the time certain types of development trickle down to us, competition and progress are already dragging the idea down even as it's being built.

Whoops, too depressing. Must have more coffee. Sorry.

posted by viola on Feb 15, 2017 at 11:23:52 am     #  

Forgot to add Portside in there! :-)

posted by viola on Feb 15, 2017 at 11:25:05 am     #  

viola posted at 10:23:52 AM on Feb 15, 2017:

Foodie, I don't imagine there is. Having owned a small business myself (storefront) years ago, I know that when you rent a place you're on the hook for all rental costs whether your business is "open" or not. It's got to be painful for WF to be paying rent and utilities on so many high-end commercial properties without being able to open the doors.

I was reminded of a past thread from long ago that hypothesized that Toledo, being a smaller market lagging behind Chicago and Detroit, has always received the tail end of development trends. By the time investors think about doing it here, whatever "it" is, "it" is already obsolescing on the national scene.

Support facts: Canal industry. Beautiful downtown train station. Multiple enclosed malls. Outdoor rock concert venue (was it Rossford? The hump of dirt was still visible when I moved to town years ago). Competing lifestyle centers.

All of them fading into insignificance or at best, sputtering along with reduced ambitions.

So an argument could be made that projects fail in Toledo not because our local officials are doofuses or because our population can't support developments above the tacos-and-beer level, but because by the time certain types of development trickle down to us, competition and progress are already dragging the idea down even as it's being built.

Whoops, too depressing. Must have more coffee. Sorry.

I wonder, if this is really the case, if this would be beneficial or harmful to the local economy? In other words, are we better off that some short lived trends fizzle out before we subscribe to them or is this sort of activity beneficial? I'm thinking that, at minimum, construction and other trades would benefit, might harm financial institutions if these go bust frequently but I don't think that would harm the local economy... thoughts?

posted by breeman on Feb 15, 2017 at 12:30:19 pm     #  

Its great for the Trades, they cannot keep up and are brining in people from all over the state (and other states) to try and help.

Which in turn has been great for hotels and the CASINO (lol). I was at the casino last Thursday and played some blackjack with two guys here from the Dayton area working downtown. They basically work 4 long days a week here and then home for 3 days. They were told about 18 months. They said they go to the casino at least once a week for entertainment, along with mud hens/walleye when there are games.

So the trickle down affect for the economy is much more than just their wages, they spend the money locally as well - food, entertainment, bars, etc.

As far as trends/being trendy - no real opinion, but I don't think you ever turn down billion dollar+ market cap companies from building in your city.

posted by Xbuckeyex on Feb 15, 2017 at 12:50:18 pm     #  

Xbuckeyex wrote:

"As far as trends/being trendy - no real opinion, but I don't think you ever turn down billion dollar+ market cap companies from building in your city."

If you are Toledo City Clowncil and you follow the Blade's vaunted editorial staff, you're about to do just that.

posted by Foodie on Feb 15, 2017 at 12:56:39 pm     #  

Yes, good for the trades! Also maybe good for the smaller businesses who can rent newish buildings that were built for a special purpose (like the competing CVS and Walgreens buildings on every major corner) after the original tenants evaporate.

Here's a thought: if Kroger is wanting to build a huge Marketplace version of its already successful store in West Toledo, after all this time, it's possible that in a year or two the corporation could reverse course and want to copy the more intimate scale of a Fresh Market/Trader Joes/Fresh Thyme model.

After all, our Whole Foods was supposed to be the smaller, easier-to-navigate version of the gigantic store.

I know I can get low prices and "organic labelled" food at Walmart, but I never seem to be in the mood to mount an expedition there. I'll stop into any smaller store instead, to save time.

posted by viola on Feb 15, 2017 at 04:57:00 pm     #  

Ok-more updates

Bloomberg-downsizing, but adding 365 stores.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-08/whole-foods-tumbles-after-posting-sixth-straight-sales-decline?utm_content=buffer12660&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

So-sort of mixed signal there. On the 365 site, still list Toledo. And then this on the developer site: https://patch.com/ohio/cleveland/amp/26920945/new-leases-signed-at-secor-square

Which lists Toledo as one of the first 10 stores to open. 4 are currently open. 17 stores are listed in development, none list opening dates.

posted by ahmahler on Feb 15, 2017 at 10:21:14 pm     #  

Last week, I messaged Mary, the Blade food writer, about this thread. She passed it off to the business writer, and he was able to do some more digging. Here's the poop:

http://www.toledoblade.com/Real-Estate/2017/02/18/Whole-Foods-store-likely-to-face-delay.html

posted by ahmahler on Feb 18, 2017 at 08:41:37 am     #   2 people liked this

Nicely done, ahmahler. Great job getting local journalists to actually investigate.

posted by JoeyGee on Feb 18, 2017 at 09:15:14 am     #   1 person liked this

That doesn't sound good. I can't see them opening that store at any point in the future. If the concept has failed in larger markets and the chain as a whole is closing stores, I can't see bottom of the food chain Toledo getting a store. I hope I am wrong. I am from West Toledo and was very concerned about that corridor, but it has rebounded nicely. If nothing else, WF was a pretty good catalyst to bring others in. I don't see myself shopping there, but I do hope I am wrong and it opens and thrives.

On another note, why is the developer and marketer for this property both from out of the area? I'm not complaining, saying all everything needs to come from Toledo--I think that sort of attitude kills deals. Just curious as to how that happens. We have local people that can do that, I imagine. Is it the big boys like WF that choose to deal with people on a national level that work with multiple properties in sort of a "system"?

posted by JoeyGee on Feb 18, 2017 at 11:56:07 am     #  

In an absolutely hilarious development-whoever posts on Facebook, on behalf of the Blade-posted the article originally with the following comment:"Maybe Whole Foods should reconsider its strategy of selling 90% bullshit"

Fortunately, a bunch of people were smart enough to grab screenshots before it was edited. Anyone know who might be in charge of Social Media over there? Paul?

posted by ahmahler on Feb 18, 2017 at 01:01:35 pm     #  

Update this morning-They are still committed to opening a "365" Store in Toledo. That will now be delayed until at least Fall, likely Q1 2018. Sounds like its more about retooling the concept, than the location being an issue.

http://www.toledoblade.com/Retail/2017/05/02/Toledo-Whole-Foods-store-may-be-delayed-to-2018.html

posted by ahmahler on May 02, 2017 at 07:11:01 am     #  

I'll stick with my previous prediction - Whole Foods - in any shape or form - is not coming to Toledo. There are reportedly two private equity firms eyeing them up - one of which owns Albertson's/Safeway on the left coast.

I'd love to be proven wrong but I just don't see them locating here.

posted by Foodie on May 02, 2017 at 08:32:02 am     #  

I heard a rumor they're holding that spot open for a new IKEA concept--IKEA180, where they sell fully assembled furniture.

posted by JoeyGee on May 02, 2017 at 10:12:21 am     #   2 people liked this

Spoke to Nico, owner of Orange Theory. Basically said the same thing, the developers came by to each existing business and explained the delay and that they are rebranding the Whole Foods concept.

Also, Lululemon sent representatives to the development about 3 weeks ago. They went door to door and asked the current tenants to fill out a questionnaire about age groups, number of people, overall experience with location, etc. They are considering opening a second Toledo location (other one is in Perrysburg) and that is the area they are strongly looking at.

Also, Orange Theory is looking to open 2 additional locations in the next 12 months.

posted by Xbuckeyex on May 02, 2017 at 10:32:59 am     #  

I feel for the businesses in that strip mall that were depending on the Whole Foods traffic. Boyfriend and I were at Pizza Fire Saturday and long line at 2 p.m. so I'm happy to see they are doing a good business.

As much as I want them here, I don't see Whole Foods ever opening here. I think Toledo has as good of a change of seeing a whole foods or Trader Joe come here as we do having roads with no potholes.

posted by classylady on May 02, 2017 at 11:30:56 am     #  

I know the Fusion, PizzaFire and Orange Theory do great business. Not sure on the other few that are open.

Truthfully, the WF fad is over - ended about 2 years ago. Toledo does not need a WF, that void has been filled by other business that beat WF to market and much better pricing.

posted by Xbuckeyex on May 02, 2017 at 11:42:27 am     #   1 person liked this

"Truthfully, the WF fad is over - ended about 2 years ago. Toledo does not need a WF, that void has been filled by other business that beat WF to market and much better pricing."

Very true. As I said here years ago, Toledoans don't have the desire or means to pay $5.99/lb for table grapes.

posted by Foodie on May 02, 2017 at 12:31:31 pm     #  

Foodie posted at 12:31:31 PM on May 02, 2017:

"Truthfully, the WF fad is over - ended about 2 years ago. Toledo does not need a WF, that void has been filled by other business that beat WF to market and much better pricing."

Very true. As I said here years ago, Toledoans don't have the desire or means to pay $5.99/lb for table grapes.

I think that's why we are getting a 365. If the company keeps the concept, we'll get one. If they shutter the concept-no telling what will happen. Could get a regular WF, maybe nothing. It's true though-Between Fresh Thyme, Fresh Market, Churchill's, plus all of the changes Kroger/ Meijer have made, they're awfully late to the game in this area. We could REALLY use a great Fish Monger (don't even mention Rohr's) and a great (knowledgeable) cheese monger. aside form that, I'm not sure what they bring that we don't have.

posted by ahmahler on May 02, 2017 at 12:51:50 pm     #  

Amazon is buying Whole Foods... curious how this will affect our upcoming store...

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/16/amazon-is-buying-whole-foods-in-a-deal-valued-at-13-point-7-billion.html

posted by upso on Jun 16, 2017 at 09:14:24 am     #  

That's a really, really interesting development - I know Amazon's been experimenting with fairly disruptive point of purchase technologies (IE no checkouts - grab your stuff and go, auto payments, etc)... add that to their insane distribution architecture, and THEN you toss in Whole Foods' really extensive high end presence..... huh.

posted by endcycle on Jun 16, 2017 at 09:30:01 am     #  

Amazon will be the worlds richest company some day imo. I also expect Bezos to pass Gates this year and be the first person to reach 100 billion net worth. Just a monster company.

posted by Xbuckeyex on Jun 16, 2017 at 09:33:12 am     #  

It worked for ProMedica.

posted by justread on Jun 16, 2017 at 10:07:44 am     #   2 people liked this

Probably had a lot to do with Whole Foods pumping the breaks on all of the stores that were in development. For a deal of this magnitude, it certainly wasn't thrown together overnight.

posted by Johio83 on Jun 16, 2017 at 10:51:19 am     #  

The Janus group has been pushing to sell Wholefoods for some time.

posted by In_vin_veritas on Jun 16, 2017 at 10:58:54 am     #  

Mark it down: Kroger is going to struggle for the next decade and eventually die off.

posted by BulldogBuckeye on Jun 16, 2017 at 12:33:35 pm     #  

BulldogBuckeye posted at 12:33:35 PM on Jun 16, 2017:

Mark it down: Kroger is going to struggle for the next decade and eventually die off.

Doubtful.

They are quite diverse . Also keep in mind many of the so-called experts blame Whole Paycheck's decline on Kroger's (relatively, for such a large company) rapid response to consumer demands - specifically organics.

posted by Foodie on Jun 16, 2017 at 01:17:55 pm     #  

BulldogBuckeye posted at 12:33:35 PM on Jun 16, 2017:

Mark it down: Kroger is going to struggle for the next decade and eventually die off.

3rd largest employer in the US, and growing... Not so sure about that one. What makes you say this?

posted by ahmahler on Jun 16, 2017 at 03:59:28 pm     #  

I heard that the reason Bezos bought Whole is for the distribution network with refrigerated warehouses. Don't forget that Amazon is not in the business of retail storefronts. I can see them shuttering all locations and concentrating strictly on drone delivery in the near future.

posted by kritter on Jun 16, 2017 at 05:55:12 pm     #  

"Don't forget that Amazon is not in the business of retail storefronts."

Since at least 2014,
Amazon has experimented with and opened small, physical retail stores and kiosks.

And also in today's tech news, Amazon was recently granted a patent that gives the appearance that Amazon is highly interested in physical stores.

June 16, 2017 - WaPo - Amazon has a patent to keep you from comparison shopping while you’re in its stores

This would apply when using the Amazon store's free WiFi. Since it's their WiFi, they can do what they want.

Amazon was awarded a patent May 30 that could help it choke off a common issue faced by many physical stores: Customers’ use of smartphones to compare prices even as they walk around a shop. The phenomenon, often known as mobile “window shopping,” has contributed to a worrisome decline for traditional retailers.

But Amazon now has the technology to prevent that type of behavior when customers enter any of its physical stores and log onto the WiFi networks there.

Titled “Physical Store Online Shopping Control,” Amazon’s patent describes a system that can identify a customer’s Internet traffic and sense when the smartphone user is trying to access a competitor’s website.

Just because a company wins a patent doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll use it.

posted by jr on Jun 16, 2017 at 07:06:10 pm     #  

from Twitter..."Amazon so different from Whole Foods. Whole Foods crams a ton of groceries into 1 bag, Amazon ships you a razor in a 3 foot box."

posted by justareviewer on Jun 17, 2017 at 11:47:48 am     #  

That's big news. Other companies might be bidding, too? If Amazon takes over, hopefully that gets the new store open sooner. With their financial backing, Whole Foods should be on steady ground. It will be interesting to see how technology plays into the shopping experience.

As for the Wi-Fi patent, that's a bold yet almost necessary move in today's retail environment. What's to stop people from using their carrier's internet when shopping? Can Amazon force them to use store Wi-Fi?

posted by mixman on Jun 17, 2017 at 12:30:17 pm     #  

With a ten year lease on the building it's unlikely they would leave it empty. Internal problems over the last few months and now the decision by Amazon held up any progress.

posted by fred on Jun 17, 2017 at 01:09:40 pm     #