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Gainesville goes whole hog for Whole Foods

You’d think they’d never seen organic kale before.

When Whole Foods Market opened its first store in Gainesville, Fla. (big college town; always a solid customer base for the grocer), the line of customers circled the 40,000-sq.-ft. at Butler Town Center, Deborah Butler’s 21st Century addendum to her family’s retail mega-complex.

Butler was moved to grab a microphone to thank the inaugural crowd of more than 2,000, telling them, “I could not have partnered with a more unique company and innovative retailer than Whole Foods, which is so perfect for our community.”

Inside Butler Town Center’s Whole Foods is a “history wall” picturing the history of the property as Stengel Air Field and a former military air training base, as well as the home of the Pitts Special planes designed and build here in the 1940s.

Next to open at the property will be Grub Burger, P.F. Chang’s, and Irish 31, and Butler Enterprises’ marketing director Mary Reichardt is optimistic for a turnout on the order of Whole Foods’s. People started camping out the night before!” she exclaimed. “It was so crazy.”

If you happen to be at ICSC’s RECon real estate show in Las Vegas as you read this and want to learn more about the 450,000-sq.-ft. mixed-use center, see Butler and Reichardt at Booth C2012.

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