The Knoxville supermarket scene is about to get more Whole-some. Or at least more crowded. The Whole Foods chain has signed a lease for a store in Knoxville, scheduled to open in 2012, according to an announcement made yesterday during the company's second-quarter earnings report. It's not clear yet where the store will be, but a rumor a few months ago had the chain looking at Papermill Plaza at the corner of Papermill Drive and Kingston Pike.
Whole Foods started in Austin, Texas, in 1980, and has since grown to more than 300 locations. The chain specializes in natural and organic foods, and has become synonymous (for better or worse) with a certain kind of upscale crunchy-granola consumerism. Its CEO, John Mackey, has in recent years also become well-known for his outspoken libertarian politics--the company is fiercely anti-union, and Mackey campaigned against the health-care reform law passed by Congress last year.
Assuming that the store will be somewhere in West Knoxville--probably a safe assumption--the news is probably most alarming for Earth Fare, whose Bearden store serves the demographic that Whole Foods generally goes after. Can the city accommodate two chains in that same niche? Stay tuned.
(h/t to Whole Foods insider "foo" over at Knox Blab.)