Photo by Chen Wu
Brooklyn’s first Whole Foods Market — in Gowanus at Third Avenue and Third Street — is nearing completion and will open before the end of this year. Meanwhile, the store’s hiring process is in the last stage as well. “Some offers have been made,” said Michael Sinatra, Whole Foods Market’s spokesperson.
“We are very excited, we think it is a wonderful thing for the community,” said Paul Basile, 47, president of Gowanus Alliance, a local community organization. “They will have a huge impact on local business and they will bring in much needed revenue not only for the area, but also for the city as a whole.” Basile said he doesn’t think there would be any negative impact and he hoped that the jobs offered by the Whole Foods Market would stay local.
Some local grocers are less enthusiastic. Issa Assim, 30, manager of Natural Plus Deli in Gowanus, said he was partly happy and partly unhappy. Though he agreed Whole Foods would facilitate business and attract people from other places, he worried that the supermarket would take customers away from his business.
Sinatra explained that the company chose Gowanus because “it is a great and accessible location, and it has lots of great surrounding neighborhoods.” He added that the store will have 300 employees, including some current employees of other stores who live in Brooklyn. “I strongly assume that the majority of people hired will be from Brooklyn, but I have not a specific number or percentage yet,” said Sinatra, adding that they will try to “keep it as local as possible.”
The New York City Department of Small Business Service and the State Department of Labor are working with the Whole Foods Market to help with the hiring. Merideth Weber, a spokesperson for NYC Department of Small Business Service, said the Service had reached out to Brooklyn community organizations to promote job opportunities and application process.
Whole Foods is in the final round of individual interviews, and some candidates have already received offers. Park Lagerberg, for example, posted on Whole Foods’ Facebook page on Tuesday, saying she got a job at Whole Foods, Brooklyn and that orientation would start on Dec. 2.
The lowest salary is $10 an hour, said Sinatra, adding that the average salary is $16 to $18 per hour, though it depends on position. He also said 75 percent of the jobs would be full time and some people who are not offered jobs in Brooklyn might be employed at Manhattan stores. Sinatra mentioned that the job application process is still open, due to the possibility that people who applied changing their minds, and other factors.
Whole Foods plans to open a second Brooklyn location — in Williamsburg in 2015. Construction will begin at the end of next year and hiring some time after that.