Shoppers flock to Whole Foods Kailua opening day

Third Hawaii store opens in Windward Oahu

 UPDATED 12:41 PM HST Apr 18, 2012
KAILUA, Hawaii -

Grand opening ceremonies were held Wednesday  for the latest Whole Foods Market in Hawaii.

The store is the third in the state and adds to ever-changing face of Kailua.

Shoppers wasted no time getting a taste of the latest Whole Foods Market in Hawaii.

"I'm very excited. We feel like civilization has arrived to Kailua," said Lanikai resident April Manson.

With more than 33,000 square feet of retail space, it's the largest Whole Foods in the state.

It's the only Whole Foods store in Hawaii with a poke bar, wine and beer bar; shave ice along with it's usual assortment of all natural, organic foods, with an emphasis on local products.

"Every Whole Foods Market is unique and is designed to reflect the personality of its specific location," said Dabney Gough, Whole Foods marketing supervisor. "So when you look around the store, you'll see a number of elements that, hopefully, really will feel like Kailua."

Kaneohe Ranch said it took three years to build the Whole Foods in Kailua, and it's been relatively well-received by the community, compared with other projects in the area.

Construction has begun on the condominium project called "Ironwoods at Kailua."
Tenants of the previous affordable housing complex were forced to leave when the lease on the property expired.  The buildings were demolished in 2007.

And work has yet to start on Target at the former Don Quijote property.
Landowner Kaneohe Ranch said it decided to reinvest in aging buildings on its properties as the 50-year leases expired.

"We probably invested in excess of $40 million in building or renovating buildings. So it was inevitable. We could let the buildings decay or we could have reinvested in them," said Kimo Steinwascher, Kaneohe Ranch Exec. vice president and chief operating officer.

And it seems Kailua residents, although not be wholly supportive of the changes in Kailua, say you can't stop progress.

"Too many of the big ones I think would not be great, but this kind of caters to the population, I think, makes up Kauai," said Brian Mace, a Kailua resident. 

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