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March 2, 2012
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Whole Foods in Basalt to fill 100 positions

BASALT - Whole Foods Market anticipates that it will start taking applications in early June to fill scores of positions at a new store in Basalt, a store official said Thursday.

Bree Lindsey, the team leader, Whole Foods Market's title for store manager, said the store will create roughly 100 full- and part-time jobs in Basalt. The number of positions could increase depending on how busy the new store becomes.

"We're shooting for a late summer startup," Lindsey said. She stressed that an altered construction schedule could push the opening later in the year and affect the hiring plan.

The natural-grocery chain will open a 27,000-square-foot store at Willits Town Center. The store space will be in a building that will total about 47,000 square feet. Retail shops, restaurants and service providers will fill the remaining space.

Lindsey is opening the application process Friday for two top executive positions. The openings for an associate store team leader and marketing director will be posted in the "careers" section of the Whole Foods website, www.wholefoodsmarket.com/careers.

The applicants hired for those positions will start in early April. Lindsey said the two positions will be open to people already working within Whole Foods and those trying to join the company. She said she has no preference for hiring from within.

"It's got to be the right person for the job," she said.

The next positions to be filled will be the heads of the various departments, such as meat and seafood, produce and bakery. Those positions will be posted on the website in early April and filled by mid-June.

The department heads have associates. Those positions will be posted on the Whole Foods website by early May and filled by mid-July, according to Lindsey.

General team members, the majority of the positions, will be sought in early June, with the goal to fill the spots by mid-July.

Lindsey said she intends to host a couple of information sessions this spring to discuss Whole Foods' approach to business and what it is like to work for the company. Those sessions will likely be in early April and early May at locations to be determined. She's also considering a job fair or fairs in late May and early June.

Whole Foods has made Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For" list every year since 1998, when the magazine started the feature.

Lindsey was a team leader at a Whole Foods Market in Albuquerque, N.M., for two years before applying for the post at Basalt. She moved to the Roaring Fork Valley last month and said she senses there will be interest in the store among job seekers and shoppers.

"It feels like everybody's ready," she said. "I think it's been a long time coming."

Whole Foods Market signed an original lease for the Basalt store in May 2007. That lease and a second one were terminated by the chain when the former owner and developer of the project ran into financial trouble and couldn't complete the building.

A subsidiary of a Kansas-based company, Mariner Wealth Advisors, acquired most of the Willits Town Center property in May 2011, signed a new lease with Whole Foods and got construction rolling again. The shell of the building is being completed. Whole Foods will finish its own interior.

The company has met with a focus group of valley residents already to help define the kind of store it wants at Willits Town Center. One important finding, Lindsey said, involves the name. Focus group members stressed it should reflect the store's connection to the entire valley, so the name will likely feature "Roaring Fork" rather than "Basalt," she said.

Lindsey said her goal is to have the grocery store blend in from the day it opens.

"I want the store to feel like it's always been there," she said. "We want to know everybody's name. We want to call everybody by their name."

scondon@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Mar 2, 2012 07:21AM Published Mar 2, 2012 01:26AM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.