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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Our Neighborhood

Downtown Los Angeles Residents Welcome Whole Foods

Downtown Los Angeles residents are responding well to the new grocery store option.

Whole Foods  had its grand opening in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday morning, and despite recent concerns about overpricing at the stores, most nearby residents were excited about the addition.

“I think that this has been a very necessary business in the area,” said L.A. resident Don Vital. “Obviously by the turn out that you see here you can tell the residents and those that work here feel that way as well.”

The expansive 41,000 square-foot market on Grand Avenue (at 8thStreet) has long been awaited. Downtown L.A.’s only other major grocery story is the Ralph’s on 9th Street.

“We’ve actually been trying to get Whole Foods Market in downtown L.A. for the last 12 years,” said Gonzalez, the marketing team leader for the downtown Whole Foods store. 

Downtown L.A. has been dealing with a population expansion in the last couple of decades and the opening of Whole Foods mirrors a changing demographic in that area, including a change in income.

“Rent in the area is very high, costs of living in L.A. as a whole is very high,” said Vital. “I think that it’s [groceries] a common item and the reason Whole Foods is such a big company is because people are willing to pay for it.”

Lower income families living in the Los Angeles area may be hesitant to shop at Whole Foods because they are more familiar with cheaper grocery stores, said USC student Kellin Sandoval, who lives in the downtown Los Angeles area.

“It won’t be an issue to USC students overall, but maybe to people who have been living here for a while that are used to shopping at Ralph’s, Food 4 Less,” said Sandoval.

Contrary to popular belief, Whole Foods provides a variety of options at less expensive prices for their customers, according to Gonzalez.

“Our prices are actually competitive to everybody else's,” said Gonzalez. “Our 365 private label actually is a great way if you’re shopping on a budget.”

Chego employees preparing a meal for a customer. (Cindy Robinson/ The Current)
Chego employees preparing a meal for a customer. (Cindy Robinson/ The Current)
The downtown store has also partnered with Chef Roy Choi, owner of Chego, who prides himself in taking care of the people. He made sure his prices were still affordable for the everyday shopper.

“We decided to go with a two-price option, $12 and $7,” said Choi. “If you know anything about what I do, I always rep the people so I feel this is just a new extension of that.

Hopefully those efforts will pay off for everyone.

“At the end of the day if a community is getting better and we’re all working together to make something good, we definitely want to be apart of that,” said Gonzalez.

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