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Natural foods supermarket breaks bread to open first of three planned NH stores

Union Leader Correspondent

August 19. 2014 8:14PM
Mayor Donnalee Lozeau joins Philip DeVito and Laura Derba of Whole Foods Market during its bread-breaking ceremony on Tuesday in Nashua. (Kimberly Houghton/Union Leader Correspondent)

NASHUA — Eager shoppers lined up early to get their first look at New Hampshire’s first Whole Foods Market, which opened Tuesday with its traditional bread-breaking ceremony.

“This is absolutely fantastic. I love the options they have here,” said Noelle Blanchard of Hudson, one of the first customers to make her way through the aisles of the new store at 255 Amherst St., a former Market Basket site.

Blanchard said she typically travels to Whole Foods in Bedford, Mass., so she is thrilled to have one right next door.

“I really enjoy fresh cooking and fresh baking, and Whole Foods has ingredients that are not easily found elsewhere,” she said.

Connor Strobel of Nashua said he is thrilled to have a market that offers local products for people who are conscious and thoughtful about the food they buy.

“Choices like this are lacking in the area. This is a major step in the right direction,” said Strobel, who was picking out almond butter, tomato paste and other groceries.

Susan Carlson of Nashua, founder and owner of Susan’s Ice Cream Essentials, said she was very excited to see her five ice cream flavors on the freezer shelves at the new store.

“I started this initiative at my kitchen table, so I am quite proud of this moment,” said Carlson, who hopes to expand her line of gluten-free ice cream.

Inside the new 32,000-square-foot store is J. Bartlett’s Club, a full-service, full-menu restaurant and pub named after Josiah Bartlett, New Hampshire’s fourth governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Patrons were already taking advantage of the 32 beers on tap Tuesday morning.

Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau spent some time picking out a few grocery items.

“This is a wonderful addition to our community,” Lozeau told the crowd before the doors officially opened. “Remember to come back and come often.”

Philip DeVito, the store team leader, said Whole Foods has waited a long time to come into New Hampshire, and is pleased to be a part of the Gate City. He hopes to reinvent the store by making it a “community market,” where feedback is not only encouraged, but used to customize the store’s offerings.

About 150 employees will be working at the new store — with about 110 of them residing in the greater Nashua area.

Five local nonprofit groups in Nashua each received one percent of Tuesday’s opening-day sales, including New Hampshire Made, Girls Inc. of New Hampshire, the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, the Greater Nashua YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua.

Whole Foods is planning future stores in Portsmouth and Bedford.

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