When I was in college 30 years ago, I volunteered at Pine Street Inn, a homeless shelter for men. It was located in South End, Boston, then an area cut off from Boston proper by the orange line subway line which ran above ground. It wasn’t a safe area; I had to recruit my 6 foot 2 inch football player friend Neal to come with me.
Our job was pretty straightforward. We mixed up a pitcher of KoolAid and offered multi-vitamins to guests as they came in to sleep there for the night. I was the front person; Neal, amused by the action we’d get, kept pace by filling paper cups of KoolAid. One night as we were leaving the premises, a strung out homeless man followed us, yelling garbled expletives and closing in quickly!
We screamed “RUN!” to each other and sprinted the half mile to the subway station (and by “sprinting” I mean that I held Neal back as I am a slow runner and he chivalrously slowed down for me to catch up. He noted at our 25th college reunion that I wasn’t a very good runner back in college. I never improved much either). The weird guy opted not to chase us so it ended up being an “All’s Well That Ends Well” tale of excitement to be retold around the dining hall that night. We did end up returning to Pine Street Inn the next week and the week after that with no other incidents of excitement.
Twenty years later, I told Neal that my husband and I were moving back to Boston and had secured an apartment in the South End. He was shocked. It’s a nice area now, I assured him. Very gentrified. My street, Appleton Street between Clarendon and Dartmouth, was a series of picturesque restored bow front brownstones. Back then though, I didn’t dare venture south of Shawmut street where the gentrification was still in process.
We left the South End 15 years ago for the suburbs of Boston once we started thinking about kindergarten for our oldest. I returned this past week to my “old” stomping ground to visit the new South End Whole Foods Market, which, incidentally, is across from Pine Street Inn. What goes around, comes around, in a full circle. Only now, this area is completely transformed, as evidenced by the amazing new Whole Foods store. I only wish it was there when my kids were little; it might have tempted me stay in the city!
At 50,000 feet and located in the old Boston Herald building, there are 110 parking spots (always a plus in this urban part of town) and serves South End, South Boston, Chinatown, Fort Point, Financial District, Back Bay! I love how the store took the building history into account as it planned the interior spaces. Not only are artifacts from the Boston Herald on display, but the chandelier pieces were custom-made by local artisan, Cleveland Art, using recycled motorcycle tire wheels and custom blown glass.
The prepared food area as you turn to the right of the entrance can rival any restaurant. Indeed, you’d need a block of restaurants to duplicate its offerings. There’s an in-house smoker, a wood fired oven, a fish shack and a yogurt shop. The food, prepared by restaurant quality chefs, also includes a make your own sandwich bar!
Did you know that the signage for the store is hand drawn in a special Whole Foods Market font?! Yes, there are special store artists that make each sign personally. Speaking of art, Whole Foods Market also offers Art To Go with a refurbished dispenser that sells small custom works of art.
Here are more interesting facts about Whole Foods Market in general:
- There is nothing in the store containing red dye number 5 or yellow dye number 3.
- Every store has local forager to help with sourcing local products and to help these companies navigate the application process. For example, the chandelier artisan, Cleveland Art, was discovered at Brimfield Fair!
- Only fish that has a yellow or green rating is sold at Whole Foods Market to protect against overfishing.
- Whole Foods Marekt has a 100% satisfaction guaranteed policy; no questions asked! If you are not satisfied with ANYTHING, please return it for a full refund!
- Whole Foods Market prices competitively against Trader Joe’s. Look for the 365 Everyday branded goods to stock up on pantry staples at great prices! Yes, Whole Foods Market can be a pricey shopping experience but there are also affordable options!
What is unique to Whole Foods Market South End?
- New in-house beignets and babkas.
- 40 linear feet of craft beer selections with a lot of local options!
- First to house an in store spa out of Austin, Texas called Milk + Honey which uses super clean products.
- Wine buyer has 35 years of industry experience
If you get a chance to visit Whole Foods Market South End, I highly recommend it! It’s nice to know that you can come home again!
Whole Foods Market | South End
348 Harrison Avenue | Boston, MA | 02118 | 617-904-1000
– Parking on-site and T accessible (Red Line Broadway, Orange Line Tufts Medical Center, Silver Line)
– Open 7 days a week, 8am-10pm
p.s. Whole Foods Market donates part of the day’s sales to local charities four times a year. This year, Pine Street Inn is one of the recipients.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Whole Foods Market via Burst Media. The opinions and text are all mine.