A Whole Foods Market in Dallas is shown in this July 30, 2007, file photo. (AP File Photo/Donna McWilliam)
Whole Foods Market Inc. plans to buy the Greenlife stores in Chattanooga and Asheville, N.C, but store officials said customers will not see much change -- at least initially -- when grocery shopping.
"There won't be much visible change, it's more of a wait and see," said Darrah Horgan with Whole Foods.
She said Greenlife will most likely keep its name though it will depend on the market, and products will remain the same.
"Greenlife has done such a great job with their stores and have such a strong customer base, I don't think there will be a lot of change," she said.
The Chattanooga Greenlife location opened an hour later Friday morning than normal to accommodate a meeting at which employees were told of the change. Store officials said they do not anticipate any staff changes.
The Whole Foods/Greenlife deal is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.
The Greenlife grocery in Chattanooga has been at Two North Shore on Manufacturers Road since 2007. Chuck Pruett opened the business in 1999 on Hixson Pike in Riverview. He and Asheville business partner John Swann opened the Asheville Greenlife store in 2004.
* Based in Austin, Texas
* Describes itself as the "world's leader in natural and organic foods."
* More than 270 stores in North America and the United Kingdom.
* Company has more than 53,000 employees.
* Sales of $8 billion in the 2009 fiscal year
Source: Whole Foods
"A deal with Whole Foods Market makes sense for us at this time in our company's life cycle," Mr. Pruett said. "Whole Foods Market, which shares a similar vision for supporting local and regional food networks, will open up even more opportunities for our customers to shop for the best and widest variety of foods they value and expand opportunities for local producers to sell their products."
Scott Allshouse, president of Whole Foods southern region, said, "Whole Foods market's presence in the Southeast and our culture as a company will be enriched by this deal with Greenlife."
The entry of Whole Foods into the Chattanooga market follows the entry of another organic grocery late last year. In December Earth Fare, based in Asheville, opened on Gunbarrel Road.
Chattanooga's specialty grocery business also includes the Fresh Market, which has a store on Gunbarrel Road near its intersection with Shallowford Road.