We had a treat this week when a new Whole Foods-style place opened in my little town of Saratoga Springs NY. Healthy Living Market is a 25 year old, family owned institution with headquarters in Burlington VT. This is only their second store so it’s a new experience for them as much as for us.
The Goldsmith-Lessers (mom Katy and kids Eli and Nina) are basing their initial product mix on the Vermont store with adjustments for local suppliers (they’ve already reached out to Johanna’s Raw Foods, a friend whom I hope to profile at some point) but they’re planning to adapt and evolve through feedback from their New York customers.
My personal inflection point, where I realized this is my default shopping destination from now on, was the cheese program. It’s not only extensive but sharply priced, a solid $5-10 per pound below comparable items at comparable stores. And there’s a bin with little nubbins for sampling where you could (and I did) put together a cheese plate for under $5. I also like the nose-to-tail butchering program, although it’s not quite up and running and they said they’d have to scramble if, for example, I needed two pounds of pigs’s tails on short notice. Also, the olive oils: I’ve never seen so many in one place.
I buy a lot of flour, which left me with mixed feelings about the bakery aisle. They charge $5.99 for a 5-pound bag of King Arthur AP, a price I’ve never seen anywhere except on the West Coast where KAF is a novelty. Walmart across the plaza sells it for around $3 a bag so I wonder how long this will last. On the other hand, they sell some of the more specialized flours in 3-pound bags (like Queen Guinevere, a low-protein cake flour) which I’ve never seen outside of King Arthur’s own store.
So far they’ve hit a lot of high notes: Healthy Living opened on Thursday and by Saturday some of the shelves were so thin of stock it looked like a going-out-of-business sale. I will be interested to watch its evolution over the months (one of the reasons I took a lot of pictures) to see what changes, and how.