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Apr 13, 2012 11:34 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Whole Foods Is Coming To East Hampton For The Summer

Apr 17, 2012 3:48 PM

Whole Foods Market, a national health food grocery store that sells organic products, is coming to Wainscott this summer.

Gregg Saunders, the owner of the former Plitt Ford dealership site on Montauk Highway, confirmed that the company has signed a short-term lease to operate a pop-up store on the property.

“I hope they do great,” Mr. Saunders said last Friday afternoon.

Michael Sinatra, a spokesman for the company, said it plans to be open for business between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

“Whole Foods Market’s Northeast Region is proud to announce its plans for the ‘Whole Foods Market Farm Stand’ pop-up venue at 368 Montauk Highway in the Wainscott-area of East Hampton, New York,” Mr. Sinatra said in an email. “During the next couple of weeks, the Whole Foods Market team will be outfitting the former car dealership space and creating a temporary farm stand to service the area through the summer months, offering a variety of fresh produce, specialty items, and more.”

Bob Schaeffer, a Planning Board member who represents Wainscott, said a site plan filed by Mr. Saunders to demolish the building currently on the property and construct a 17,500-square-foot building with a 12,000 square foot basement was approved on April 4. Mr. Saunders’s plan received unanimous approval and there were few members of the public who spoke out against the project, he said.

“I think it’s a good project,” he said. “First of all, that building that’s there is an eyesore and it’s not a very pretty site the way it is. This particular change will be really good.”

Others in the community agreed this week that a grocery store at the location would be a welcome change. Rick Del Mastro, a co-chairman of the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee, said the project would be a “vast improvement” over the current “eyesore” at the site. He noted that the committee was concerned about traffic, but viewed the project positively because the business is setting up shop temporarily. That will give the group an opportunity to evaluate the situation this summer and recommend any traffic mitigation.

“Our biggest concern is the traffic, and this will give us an opportunity to have a look at what impact it’s going to have,” Mr. Del Mastro said.

Margaret Turner, the executive director of the East Hampton Town Business Alliance, endorsed the project overall, but also said she was concerned about traffic and about the idea of a “pop up” store, which she said indicates a lack of commitment to the community.

“I think it’s very exciting,” Ms. Turner said. “I’m very, very pleased about it. I personally think it’s a great place to shop. And I think it’s good for us.”

Ms. Turner added that today’s economy isn’t kind to mom-and-pop stores.

“In the real world, I think it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep our businesses to the mom-and-pop stores, which is really unfortunate but it is a reality of living here,” Ms. Turner said. “And I think there will always be a certain percentage of the population that would not want to see this thing come into town. I think it’s a great operation. It’s very well run. I think they offer a good product. And personally I look forward to having it here.”

Mr. Saunders said his desire to put a grocery store at the nearly 2-acre site came from the community, which has been wanting another shopping option aside from Citarella or Waldbaum’s, both in East Hampton Village, he said. He also said he plans to address parking issues after the pop-up store’s trial run is over by embarking on a number of road improvements at the site, including widening the entrance and creating turn lanes.

“Here’s the concern: the traffic is already there, and it already exists,” Mr. Saunders said. “Hello to the Hamptons. It’s either you live with it and that’s what it’s going to be, period. I’ll tell you, if there wasn’t traffic, the store wouldn’t want to locate here.”

When the new building is eventually completed, it will “knock your socks off,” he said. He plans to secure building permits at the end of the summer.

Asked what the next step would be if Whole Foods Market chose not to occupy the space permanently, Mr. Saunders touted his background as a developer and ensured a good business would take root at the property.

“Someone sexy will wind up there,” he said.

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Someone get me his number we have space in Westhampton also. Lots of space.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Apr 13, 12 1:07 PM
Thank you Mr. Saunders for all your efforts. You have done your part. We all now have to do ours so that Whole Foods will stay on. I'll be there opening day and every week thereafter!
By wainscotter (18), wainscott on Apr 13, 12 1:50 PM
Seriously!!!! - come to Westhampton, we have an empty Pastor Chevrolet, we have an empty bowling alley, we could keep it open year round.
By Eliza (29), Westhampton Beach on Apr 13, 12 4:04 PM
2 members liked this comment
Meh. I'd rather have Trader Joe's. Their prices are great, especially compared to Whole Fiods.
By btdt (449), water mill on Apr 13, 12 8:36 PM
Can you say "test marketing" boys and girls?

I bet you can!
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 13, 12 11:19 PM
Farm stand eh? I hope they will be buying and selling local produce
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Apr 14, 12 10:58 AM
1 member liked this comment
That's the beautiful thing about WholeFoods. They usually do!
By realistic (472), westhampton on Apr 14, 12 6:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
A Whole Foods farm stand. That's a good one. Nothing like a national chain competing with local farmers during the summer season. Nice.
By rv (38), watermill on Apr 14, 12 7:32 PM
2 members liked this comment
rv - where do you think they get their produce from?

Have you ever been to a whole foods? If so you'd notice they sell stuff like Tate's cookies, Publik House beer and fruits and veggies from our farmers as well as fish from our fishermen.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Apr 15, 12 9:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
More traffic,
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Apr 19, 12 10:16 PM
More traffic BLa BLa Bla go back to your gardens and pretend its 1958 lol
By They call me (2826), southampton on Apr 22, 12 3:46 PM
Why can't we have stores that other areas have? I'm all for preserving character, but I'm also sick and tired of having to drive to all the way to riverhead for affordable items, and having to use the internet to get virtually everything.
By louse pt. (143), springs on Apr 22, 12 7:19 PM
2 members liked this comment
Obviously you never drive here. Personal attacks are not necessary to make a point.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Apr 27, 12 7:16 PM
I'll take Whole Foods over all the useless retail stores in EH village that have 5k dollar jeans!
By louse pt. (143), springs on Apr 22, 12 10:11 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Apr 22, 12 2:38 PM
If you want to be close to the big box retailers, move on up to Riverhead. Whole Foods in this location seems to be a better use of the property than leaving it unoccupied. Seems to be an opportunity there for summer employment for local kids, that's a good thing.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Apr 23, 12 7:19 AM
I love going to local stores, yet the problem is that in this area, shopping locally often means paying tourist/resort prices.
By louse pt. (143), springs on Apr 23, 12 5:22 PM
In response to Bigfresh - Whole Foods is hiring for the summer!
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Apr 23, 12 9:05 AM