By Tori Zackery
In preparation for its early 2016 opening, Whole Foods in East Lansing will soon begin hiring.
The new store, which has yet to announce an official opening date, is located at 2750 E. Grand River Ave. and looking to hire 120 part-time and full-time employees, said Whole Foods spokesperson Allison Phelps to the Lansing State Journal.
Positions posted online require varying skills, from high-level food preparation to customer service positions that require no previous experience. Phelps reported to the Lansing State Journal that interviews should be held in March. In addition to the online application process available on the Whole Foods website, a job fair is planned for March 7 at an off-site office at 2842 E. Grand River.
The opening of the East Lansing store is a continuation of the Austin, Texas-based organic grocer’s expansion into Michigan. The company has existing stores in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Troy, Rochester Hills and West Bloomfield. East Lansing will be its seventh Michigan location.
Plans of the store were initially announced in 2013 and have since been met with mixed feelings from the community.
“I think that they might have a hard time with college students because they are so expensive,” said Michigan State University student Chloe Foster. “Their prices don’t fit a college student’s budget.”
Contrary to that belief and despite the fact that organic and health foods often wield higher price tags, the health foods industry has a presence in East Lansing. Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, which purchases food from local vendors, opened its first Michigan store in the area in 2015 and the local Foods for Living organic grocery store has served East Lansing for almost 20 years. Both stores are close to Michigan State’s campus.
The addition of Whole Foods is expected to impact the Lansing-area’s health foods scene. Foods for Living store manager Christopher Faulkner said the local grocery store has been preparing for the competition and encourages the community to continue to shop local.
“I mean these are the people that live in your community, the people that live and work in your community,” said Faulkner. “This money is staying in your community. It isn’t getting shipped off to Austin or wherever else headquarters is, supplying a huge corporate structure.”
In light of the competition, Faulkner added that the grocery giant’s new location in East Lansing is a testament to the community’s desire to lead healthier lives.
“It’s becoming not so much a niche market; it’s more widespread than it used to be than when we started almost 20 years ago,” said Faulkner. “That being said, I think the market continues to expand and grow and I think it will continue to do so because more people are taking control over what they eat and taking control of their health.”
As East Lansing awaits the opening of Whole Foods, many are excited about the variety of health food choices the community is beginning to offer. East Lansing resident and student Bryan Taylor said having multiple options won’t necessarily be the detriment of any one business.
“If anything, this will help MSU. A lot of students want to be healthy and these stores allow that,” said Taylor. “I’m excited for Whole Foods to come in and I’m still going to shop our local businesses.“