By Erica Marra
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter
A new branch of popular health food chain Whole Foods Market is scheduled to open for business on East Grand River Avenue this April, which will mark the third natural food store to open in or around the Meridian area within a five-mile radius. The market will join the ranks of 18-year-old local business Foods For Living and Meijer-invested Fresh Thyme, a Midwest chain that opened its first Michigan store in East Lansing last year. With Whole Foods Market opening less than half a mile away from Foods For Living, experts expect a disruption in competition to alter business transactions among the health food stores in the Meridian area. Thomas Page, former Meridian Township resident and Associate Professor within Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business, said he expects corporate-owned Whole Foods to take a notable slice of consumer traffic. “Whole Foods is expensive, but it’s also a much bigger store and it’s going to draw a bigger influx of customers just because of the fact that it’s much more well-known.