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Whole Foods opens to large crowds in Newport News

With a door buster special flier in hand, Aaron Nitz waited patiently Wednesday morning with a growing group of loyal shoppers and curious residents waiting to gain access to one of the most highly anticipated store openings on the Peninsula: Whole Foods.

“Well, it's a great place to find quality food,” said Nitz, who, with his wife, owns two electric cars they can charge at one of Whole Foods' five charging stations. “We can charge our cars and shop. It's good for us.”

Nitz certainly wasn't alone.

Whole Foods corporate and local officials broke bread with hundreds of people and city officials at its newest Virginia store in the Marketplace at Tech Center development, at 12080 Jefferson Ave. in the greater Oyster Point area of Newport News.

The Austin, Texas-based chain owns and operates one of the largest natural and organic food and product marketplaces in the nation. The Newport News location is the company's second in Hampton Roads, following Virginia Beach.

Whole Food anchors the 250,000-square-foot Marketplace at Tech Center development at the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Oyster Point Road.

Grabbing buggies and shopping baskets, shoppers whisked through the 40,000-square-foot store — many stopping to take in the wide range of produce, beauty products and overall design of the store.

“This is what it's all about,” Kristin McPherson said, as she marveled at the store's juice machine. “All their produce is exceptional … this will be my last stop before I leave.”

With her selfie stick in hand, Kiln Creek resident Valerie Wilder posed with a case of pastries before filling a sack full of sweets.

Wilder said she has traveled to Whole Foods locations in Richmond and Virginia Beach. She said she couldn't wait for the Newport News location to open.

“They thought they were just opening a store for Newport News, but I prayed for this store to come here,” Wilder said. “I love it.”

Florence G. Kingston, director of the Newport News Department of Development, hopes the new store will be a catalyst of new investment in the greater Oyster Point area, helping to draw new development and talent to the area.

“This says a lot about our city's quality of life,” Kingston said. “We're very excited to have Whole Foods anchoring this project.”