Wintry conditions were not enough to keep East Lansing residents from showing up in a crowd of hundreds to Whole Foods Market’s Party for the Planet event on Saturday at the parking lot of the newly constructed Whole Foods Market.
Whole Foods Market, slated to open on April 13 at 2750 E. Grand River Ave., held the gathering of more than 20 local Michigan vendors and charities.
“This is definitely one of our larger events,” Allison Phelps, a public relations specialist at Whole Foods Market, said. “We posted online on our social channels about the Party for the Plant and within an hour or two, the shares and the likes and the people already planning on coming were at like 500. The response was incredible.”
Under a maze of white tents, vendors from all over Michigan provided free samples of their products including everything from coffee to varieties of popcorn and pie to craft beers.
Many of the vendors held the same values Whole Foods Market has tried to project.
“We love what they stand for,” Samantha Glueck, an event ambassador for Vander Mill, a cider brewery in Michigan. “We’ve been partners with Whole foods for a long time and we’re in all Whole Foods in Chicago.”
Other area charities showed up for the event as well.
“We’re all about good health and Whole Foods is to so we wanted to collaborate with them on joining the community,” Sparrow Foundation’s Women Working Wonders and Clean Water Action volunteer Lisa Hildorf said.
Sparrow’s W3 is a foundation involved with support for women’s physical and psychological health.
In addition, employees from the Greater Lansing Food Bank were on site. Resources manager for the food bank Todd Powell said the bank will be salvaging leftover and outdated foods that are still usable for the food bank’s recipients.
The event seemed to provide a good time for residents to get to know the local connection as Whole Foods and the vendors tried to integrate into the community.
“I thought it would be cool to come out and check out the Whole Foods opening,” Mason resident Kaitlyn Casulli said. “I like to go there and get some fresh stuff.” Adding as well that she was a customer of Whole Foods back in her native North Carolina.
For vendors it was another chance to be up front and center with community and market their products that will hit the shelves come April 13.
“We’re in five of their stores in Michigan now and they invited us to participate,” Mark Sarafa, owner of PopDaddy Popcorn said. “We’re fortunate to be in there stores here in East Lansing.”
PopDaddy offers a variety of flavors of popcorn from red corn they grow and pop in Michigan.
“The response was incredible,” Phelps said of the vendors. “The were just so excited, they said tell us when where, we don’t care about the weather, we’re just happy to meet people and tell them about the products that are going to be in the store.”