Whole Foods is coming to Albany

whole foods exterior san diego

A Whole Foods in San Diego.

Updated 11:55 am May 3, 2012

Whole Foods announced in its quarterly earnings report yesterday that it has signed a lease for a store in the Albany, New York area. The company also mentioned it on its Twitter feed.

A spokesman for Whole Foods, Michael Sinatra, tells AOA the store will be at Colonie Center. He says the supermarket chain will be taking over a portion of the bottom floor of the Sears space there. The store is expected to be 32,000 square feet.

Sinatra says the target date for the store opening is late 2013 early 2014. The store is still "very much in the planning phase." It will be Whole Foods' first store in upstate New York. Sinatra says the company already works with a lot of farms in this region.

"We've had requests for sometime from that area, so we're excited to open there," Sinatra says. And in an follow up email: "Nothing in particular pushed us over the edge [in deciding to expand to Albany] other than tremendous support from the local community in having us come to Albany."

At tip of the hat to Business Review for first reporting the lease signing.

What about Sears?

The announcement prompts the question: What about Sears? Susan Spaccarelli, Colonie Center's marketing manager, told us this morning that Sears will not be leaving the mall -- but she couldn't share details because the mall has not received official confirmation of the deal. Spaccarelli said Sears owns its chunk of the mall, so any leasing deal would be between Whole Foods and Sears.

A spokesman for Sears, Chris Braithwaite, tells us the company plans to continue on as usual at the Colonie Center location -- it's just that part of its space will be turned over to Whole Foods. He says it's too early to tell what the product mix will be in the reconfigured space. Braithwaite says the Colonie Center store is one of the bigger Sears, though he declined to share its square footage.

Sears and Whole Foods have teamed up for a similar deal in at least one other location, in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Supermarket field is getting crowded

Either by coincidence or strategy, the Whole Foods will be going in just down the street from the new Trader Joe's on Wolf Road. TJ's hasn't announced when that store will open, but it probably won't be long -- the company has said it would be during this quarter.

Another angle in all this: the local supermarket field is getting crowded -- and competitive. ShopRite is investing significantly in this area with two (eventually four) new stores. A Vermont-based market called Healthy Living -- which is a bit like Whole Foods -- is planning to open a store in Wilton. The relatively new Fresh Market in Latham has apparently been very well. The Honest Weight Food Co-op is looking to move ahead on its planned location in Albany. And the established players, Price Chopper especially, appear to be trying to step up their game.

Wegmans could cause a mass medical emergency right now with any sort of nod toward this area. Thousands would probably succumb to supermarket hysteria-induced fainting.

After the jump, much reaction -- a lot of it not positive -- from Twitter and Facebook.

(Thanks, Alex!)

photo: Flickr user Roebot

From AOA's Facebook page

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Whole Foods planned for Colonie Center
Colonie Center
Colonie, NY 12205


A Trader Joes and a Whole Foods. All we need is Toll Brothers to take care of those pesky open spaces and we might just have ourselves a city!

I am really excited about this. I live in Columbia County and do most of my food shopping at local coops/farm stands and supplement with Hannaford, but now I can ditch Hannaford and stop at WF on my way home from work in Latham.

And hopefully WF will carry as much local foodstuffs as they can. It's funny - I live right down the road from Milk Thistle Farms, a great grass-fed dairy, but it's really hard to find locally. But every time I go to Long Island to visit my inlaws we stop at the WF in Stony Brook and they have a big supply of Milk Thistle products. I hope this will help all the local producers sell their tasty products.

I did not realize that Sears was closing. Actually, I did not realize that it was still open, either.

I'm with Ron... hadn't heard that Sears was closing. Is this the first that has been made public?

I am so sad Sears is closing. It is a part of my growing up, great prices, selection, easy to manuver, nice salespeople.
Guess the Capital Region is going more upscale in their taste. Wait, does the press release mean Sears will just occupy the top floor, or close?

Sears may just be consolidating to the top floor, where most of the big-ticket items are, as well as pickup/delivery services and the main office.

Or it could be closing.

i think its pretty CRAPPY that they make the whole food announcement before the SEARS news. i would hate to think that the employees of sears dont know this yet and was given the news via the media. that would stink.. i know some long time workers of sears who have stuck with them and this is they way they find out? CRAPPY! and i think the last thing we need is another grocery store that caters to the people who have money cause the average person can not afford to shop in these places if they have a family.. and what a joke Shop Rite is.. terrible over price stuff for people who shop weekly.. give us a store that will give us more bang for our buck.. NOT another high price chain that the average peorson cant afford!

@mg, Alex: We're waiting on callbacks about Sears. Alex is right that it could just be a consolidation.

What an odd location for a supermarket...

I am sad that Sears is closing, or shrinking, or something. I also want to know what the prices are like at Whole Foods -- I know the products are supposed to be good, but is this somewhere that's actually a reasonable choice for your weekly shopping, a good primary grocery store, or is it the kind of place that'll give you good products but take your entire paycheck to do it?

If you are an employee of Sears and didn't expect this, you haven't been paying attention. A little reading of the news should have had you worried, or at least informed. Here is an article from earlier this year. Perhaps Albany is one of the stores that will be no longer selling clothes and thus they don't need the first floor? Personally I buy most of my clothes at Sears so I'm disappointed (and not a sharp dresser), but I'm not surprised.


"Sears Holdings (SHLD -4.11%) already said it would close as many as 120 Sears and Kmart stores this year in an effort to turn the business around. But that wasn't enough.

The struggling retailer said Thursday it will have to tighten its belt even more. Sears is now planning to close 43 Hometown stores, 10 Sears Hardware stores and all nine stores in the Great Indoors chain. Hometown stores are independently operated, and sell hardware in mostly rural areas.

Sears is also getting rid of clothing in 10 Sears stores -- perhaps in a test run for a chain-wide initiative in the future"

I got no love for Sears. Haven't stepped in one in 20 years. When my dad was unemployed, the lady from Sears collections would call and harass my mom. "I know you have this money," she would say, bringing my mom to tears. Called us every day.

RE: KB's question. In Virginia Beach, they nicknamed While Foods "Whole Paycheck;" I think that answers your question. But I do shop there (stock up when I travel south) for items the local grocers simply do not carry.

While this is exciting news, they don't call it "Whole Paycheck" for no reason! Sad to hear about Sears. We've always gotten deals on big purchases for the home in that store.

I'm excited by this. I live in NYC and Whole Foods is one of the only civilized grocery options here (TJs is way too crowded, Pathmark is a little too rough around the edges, etc.). It doesn't strike me as exorbitantly over-priced either. Their 365 generic is competitive in quality to the name brands, and about evenly priced compared to Price Chopper generic.

Daniel - how terrible! I'm personally not too sad about Sears too. We went in last year looking for appliances, and was shocked how the salespeople was not knowledgeable about the products they were selling... =( Maybe we were not lucky enough to find the good salespeople. Also had similar experience when we shopped for mattresses.

I think WF coming is good news, it's expensive, but competition is always good!

KB, I've heard people from California call Whole Foods "Whole Paycheck," regarding their grocery bill.

I am very excited to hear that Whole foods is coming. For those of you that haven't shopped there before and are worried about prices- they have items for everyone, but it really is a supplement to either a price chopper or hannaford. I am surprised that no one has brought up the parking issue yet. Parking at colonie center is already a nightmare.

The additions of these new grocery stores are a way for the Grocery Store Gods to make up for not giving us a Wegmans.

I mean, nothing beats a Wegmans, but I do enjoy a Whole Foods. Oh yes.

I'm excited for whole foods, but i must say that a whole foods at colonie center will make it all but impossible to park there. i bet $5 now, that people will be parking across the street in the "northway mall" parking lot in order to shop at whole foods. terrible planning.

As anyone asked why all these supermarkets are coming here all of a sudden? I can't imagine the population here is growing, at all. We can only support so many stores. The question now should be who are these news stores going to replace?

What is the big deal about overpriced groceries? At least Trader Joe's offers something unique - packaged items that are not full of industrial chemicals, and they are priced reasonably. The mole sauce, a couple of their simmering sauces, they're decent and made with actual food-like ingredients.

I have not been to Colonie Center or Crossgates in over 3 years, because malls are the devil, Wolf Road sucks, Crossgates' wingnut ownership and rent-a-cop mentality, etc. But even for occasional mall-goers, do you really want to fight that traffic just for food?

My ghast, it is flabbered. I don't get this one at all. Talk about a reason to stay even FURTHER away. Going to BJs is going to get even worse, too, now that I think about it.

I'm sticking with the Honest Weight for my basic shopping (new store slated to open spring 2013) since I am an owner/member. I'll check out Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, but the Wolf Rd. location won't get me shopping there more than once in a blue moon.

@jamband above raises a good point. Let's say most of us eat 2,000-3,000 calories a day of food (or food-like substances). The quality, prices, and variety might vary with more shopping options, but grocery shopping is a zero-sum game.

I only shop at Sears for their appliances and for the Lands End clothes. They do have some great sales on Lands End that you can't get through the catalog. I'll be sad to lose those two parts of Sears. And I agree with all who have said that parking will be even worse than it already is at Colonie Center!

i think colonie center it too busy.. i avoid that area because there is lousy parking and the traffic is horrible,
how about in guilderland where there is more space!
i love whole foods and excited they are coming to the area..but colonie is too congetsted already.

After years of a two party system (P-Chops and Hannaford) it is a bit surprising to now have so many choices, including Shop Rite and the Target food section. Still, I don't see myself running to a WF or TJ's for milk and bananas, so maybe it will sort itself out.

While existing stores do need to worry about losing market share, it is also likely that people in the Capital Region will simply start spending more on food. And putting Trader Joe's and Whole Foods on Wolf Road will draw prepared-food business from the people who work in that area and are bored of the usual options.

It'll be interesting to see how it all plays out. My Price Chopper and my Hannaford were both overhauled recently in face of the new competition, so I'm already benefiting.

I definitely think the increased traffic will be an issue, but I'm not too worried about parking. The parking area next to Sears is always empty.

Had I not been nearly run over 5 times just trying to enter the parking lot at CC, then nearly run over 4 more trying to walk to the entrance...I might be excited. As it is, I can't imagine why they chose the location they did, nor why I would want to go battle the Christmas Tree Store and "I love paying too much for bad chinese food" shoppers for a space.


The Billfold recently ran a piece about the cost of Whole Foods.

Now that we have Whole Foods and Trader Joe's can I start a campaign for a QFC or HEB in the area. Those would make me happy.

Oh, wait, you haven't had the chance to shop at a QFC or a HEB? You do not know what you are missing. In my Seattle neighborhood, the QFC was a temple dedicated to food...a shining of oasis of consumerism that was loved by all and deified by others...

It was...a REAL grocery store.

Though I'm sure it'll change once Whole Foods gets in - does anyone actually think of parking in the ample parking near Sears (approaching the bus stop on Central) when the other lots nearer the mall/places you'd want to go become full?

I walked through that parking lot twice a day for years and barely saw a car there.

Also, now that I DO walk twice a day through the lot on the extreme north end (north of Macy's), they're always empty too. In fact it's so empty that Colonie Center has apparently made some agreement with DeNooyer to put their overflow new vehicles there (anyone want a Cruze or Malibu?) as for the last month or so there've been about 100 brand new cars sitting there taking up space that is ALWAYS empty otherwise.

So that's 100 spaces that, in the future, can be occupied by WF or even Trader Joe's customers.

I get that nighttime on the weekends is going to be different, but people are wigging out over a situation that's going to exist 10% of the time once the store becomes established and the people that are just curious have seen what they want to see and don't come by any longer.

@ my last comment:

I acknowledge that this in no way exonerates the planning process for traffic on Central Ave, Wolf or Sand Creek Roads. Traffic is really quite bad now and it's going to be a cluster$@#^ when all this is installed.

When I heard this news, the first thing I thought was how am I going to get my old Kenmore sewing needles now? That Sears is the only one in the area that carries them. Yes I'm a 90 year old grandma.

And kudos to AOA - you folks scooped the Times Union on this story by verifying location first. Well done.

BTW, Honest Weight...are you sure you folks still want to move into that big old expensive building? Seems like things are getting a little competitive in the field of natural and organic....

it's gettin real in the Whole Foods parking lot

I think it's great they are coming to the area but why a mall?? I just don't see myself going to a mall for groceries.

Spring 2014. That's still a whole two years away!

Alright, then -- why do we want a Whole Foods, if we won't be able to afford to shop there? Somebody sell me on it -- why do I need to make a special trip to Colonie to buy their more-expensive goods?

I think this is great. While I am not a Whole Foods fan (I found it pricey for what it was the few times I went, and only got specialty stuff I couldn't find elsewhere), all this competition will make other stores step it up. Our Hannoford has gotten a redo and I love the progress. Maybe now the coop will have to try a little. Don't get me wrong, I love the community and all they do for our neighborhoods. But sometimes the store itself could leave a lot desired.

Silly Albanians, we want Whole Foods (and Trader Joe's and other overpriced/coveted markets that-shall-not-be-named) because we are Americans, it's 2012, and we want what everyone else has! Once we get it, we can shop there twice, complain about it, and then focus our attention and squawking on something else we don't have yet.

I already cannot believe how many grocery stores there are in the Capitol Region, which is not a very densely populated area. I don't even mean the number of different chains, but just actual, physical stores. I live down the street from the Delaware Ave Price Chopper, but could as easily get to the one on Madison. Then there's the gigunda one in Slingerlands and the ginormous one on Central, right across from Hannaford! Considering that most of these are really not pedestrian friendly, the proximity of these stores to one another makes no sense; i.e. you have to drive to any one of them anyway. I suppose one outcome might be fewer PC/HF locations, which would be fine by me (just don't close MY PC!) But really, a relative newcomer to this area, the grocery store issue is just...bizarre.

"Sinatra says the company already works with a lot of farms in this region." Please define "works with" and "a lot".

@Barold: That's a good question. I interpreted it to mean farms in the Hudson Valley -- if anyone's been to WFs in the NYC area, maybe they can weigh in on what's available from the greater region. (Tangent: while eating at a "farm to table" restaurant in NYC last year, my wife and I noticed a bunch of names from producers in the HV and close to the Cap Region, like Old Chatham Sheepherding.)

All that organic produce has to come from somewhere. Whether it's here or California or wherever, is a good question.

It's no Wegmans but I'm jumping for joy anyway! Hooray!

I'm a mom with kids who have multiple food allergies. I am FOR any store, market, farm, roadside stand, or shack that wants to open up their doors and offer real, organic food.

Thank you for the GREAT reporting and interesting article as usual. You sure beat TMZ in my book! I meant to say this before. The suggestion about going to Guilderland is a better idea. Lathem Mall, where Burlington Coat Factory is leaving is also an excellent choice.
Wait how about making me an offer on my building .
There are a lot of vacant sites on my block!

I've only been to a Whole Foods a few times when I lived in Illinois, and I probably wouldn't stop there often, especially if it involves going near Crossgates.

What I don't understand is the hubbub about the Capital Region suddenly being overrun with grocery stores. With the exception of ShopRite, which seems to have plans for expansion in the area, we're getting...ONE Whole Foods and ONE Trader Joe's. Grocery expansions at Target and Wal-Mart are part of a nationwide shift into the grocery business for those two chains, not some kind of concentrated effort to make this region in particular more grocery competitive.

Whoops, meant Colonie Center for that last comment.

The "Whole Paycheck" thing is a bit of a cheap shot, especially if you've never actually shopped in one. Yes, they have pricey items (as does PC & Hannaford), but like our two major grocery stores, there are plenty of ways to shop at WF without breaking your food budget. One is their house brand (365, I think?), which is very competitive with organic products at local stores. And that's what it boils down to, right? A wider selection of organic and natural food products, with as wide a range of local products as they can find.

@Greg: The WF I've shopped at in Connecticut features products from the Hudson Vallley and Central NY, and offers far more local products than I've ever seen at either PC of Hannaford, including regional beers, locally roasted coffee, etc.

If buying organically is not a priority, then don't shop at WF, but if it is, the prices will be competitive or better with what's currently offered in the area. My bet is they'll be VERY competitive with Honest Weight, too.

Regarding who might shop there? People looking for a broader range of options; people relocating from areas that have a WF; vacationers on their way north. Me. I don't think they'll starve for shoppers.

As far as location, I don't see how parking is an issue. The lot on the south side is huge and rarely full, as most people park near the entrances to the other anchors: B&N and LL Bean and/or the restaurants. It also has access off of Central Ave and Wolf Rd. With TJs up the street, it seems like a good spot to me. If you drew a circle around Fresh Market in Latham and several PC or Hannaford locations, I wouldn't be surprised to find that this location is near the intersection of those circles.

Muaaaahhh!!!! Another gigantic grocery company is opening a location in our area and they're NOT going to open in a downtrodden neighborhood with the intent of revitalizing it. Certainly maximizing profit and minimizing risk by locating in established high-traffic shopping centers would not be their goal.

Get real.

New grocery stores seem exciting because people are tired of old unclean Choppers (shouldn't they be called jack-uppers?)

So a grocery store is opening in a location with highway access, big parking lots and high traffic, what is the issue here? Everything will be ok.

I understand the questioning of putting Whole Foods in the Colonie Center mall, but I for one, will appreciate those moments when picking up shoes for my kids and realizing I also need milk or something for dinner and being able to do so without making another stop at a grocery store somewhere else. And isn't that the idea behind a mall?...at least it's not Walmart.

What we need is a Costco, folks!

Some clarity here -

1) If you've ever lived in a major metropolitan area, you know that Wolf Rd. traffic is barely worth mentioning. Sitting in traffic for 10 mins is a godsend if you've been to LA or NYC, or have experienced major, hours-long traffic-jams-as-daily-life. We really don't realize how good we have it here. However, we’ve also been in a veritable desert when it comes to how the rest of the country works. We were always behind the rest of the country in terms of having places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Some people enjoyed this, some people loathed this, but nevertheless this is NOW an exciting time – surely WF and, to a lesser degree, TJs will alter the supermarket landscape of the Capital District, bring much-needed competition to the area. This could mean, and I’m not sure yet, but this COULD mean that (with Shop-Rite already firmly entrenched) I don’t have to walk another Price Chopper aisle again, ever. Awesome.

2) Hell YES we’re excited! It’s culture, it’s being good to yourself. It’s the intangibles associated with having a positive shopping EXPERIENCE, not just “running to the store”. Not to mention, WF and TJ will create jobs!

3) Having lived in several WF-served cities, I can attest that all of this saber-rattling concerning "High prices" really isn't necessary. You'll spend around the same at Price Chopper or Hannaford for far less quality. This is the entire thing: WF provides a step above PC and Hannaford; you are paying (a bit) extra for quality in experience and product. Even WF’s store brand, 365, is above-average. Just deal with it, or don't.

4) Just think of the dingy aisles in your local supermarket: there is a legacy of finite neglect of the consumer in this area, under the guise of "well, no one knows the difference". Then, Shop-Rite came in (speaking of traffic jams...) and there was a collective "aha" in terms of how customer service, quality (the cheese!) and cleanliness is supposed to be done. It's just a better experience. Earlier, a gentleman mentioned QFC market in Seattle. Imagine Price Chopper, but even more signage hanging from the ceiling (if that’s possible), less to offer and a bigger parking lot. If he’s referencing the QFC in U-District/Greenlake, that store is actually a true dump - my friend, you’re deluded.

5) Poor Honest Weight. You can take that statement literally AND figuratively. They have a core group of staff that works very hard, but...ehh. The prices are high, the parking stinks, I'm expected to "give a loan to the store I own", fine, but the building they bought is a white elephant with a great view of the CDTA bus complex, NEWS9 and a fleabag motel. Uh, Great. Perhaps this is the final wake-up call to Honest Weight to get their butts in gear and either make that little Central Ave. store a funky, cool, niche, or take the leap and move to the new facility, holding your breath and crossing your fingers that this, somehow, will work. If I was an HW employee, I'd be furious, and furiously reevaluating where I'd like to work come 2014. A peaceful co-existence can occur between WF and HW, but it's going to take a bit of effort to reclaim an identity sullied by politics, bad real estate and worse parking. Argue politics; argue big business is evil, fine, okay, but someone, somewhere suffered for your Prius, too.

I agree with Frank--why are people so worried that we might now have too many grocery stores? Isn't competition a good thing? If we really do have too many, then some stores--those not able to compete--will close, which is how the "marketplace" supposed to work.

And for all of the people who say we should be loyal to the local stores--whether it's Honest Weight Co-op or PC--well, just because something is local doesn't automatically make it good--I am in favor of supporting local business but there have been various local businesses that I don't go to for various reasons--poor customer service, for example, or they just don't have what I need. If Shop Rite, WF, or TJs forces PC, HWFC, or other places to carry different products, lower their prices, whatever, then that's a good thing.

my life is now complete!

The comment (not to mention the name) by Don't Golub Way Mad, Just Golub Way is the best I've read on this Site. Couldn't have said it better myself. But, hey, I'm from the "Left Coast", what do I know.

I only buy organic produce. I have a difficult time finding what I need at Hannaford. (I don't even bother with Price Chopper!) I have to go to Four Seasons in Saratoga or drive 40 minutes to Honest Weight Coop.

So, for everyone complaining about traffic and high prices: Don't go. Keep shopping at Ghetto Chopper and eating crappy food. This Whole Foods is for me and my family and we will be making weekly treks to Wolf Road.

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