CLEARWATER — Whole Foods Market's debut location in Pinellas County will hold its grand opening on Sept. 24, the company announced Wednesday.
The international health food grocery chain's newest location will occupy 38,000 square feet in the lower level of Sears at Westfield Countryside Mall on U.S. 19. It's the same arrangement that Whole Foods has made with the downsizing Sears corporation at several malls around the United States.
The grand opening, which is at 9 a.m. on a Wednesday, will kick off with a ceremony in front of the store. The first 500 customers in line will receive a gift card with a mystery value between $5 and $50, with one receiving a gift card worth $500.
Whole Foods has been hiring about 200 workers for the Clearwater location, which will be the chain's third grocery store in Tampa Bay. The others are in Tampa and Carrollwood. The company has 21 stores in Florida.
They're among nearly 400 Whole Foods stores, which are known for their eco-friendly approach as much as the vast salad bar, hot food bar and soup selection along with products such as organic milk, grass-fed beef and whole-grain foods.
At Countryside Mall, Sears is keeping its south entrance near BJ's Restaurant, while Whole Foods is getting the west entrance. There won't be an entrance to the mall from Whole Foods.