By Lisa Kubota - bio | email
KAHULUI, Maui (HawaiiNewsNow) - The wait is finally over for shoppers on the Valley Isle. Whole Foods opened its first neighbor island market on Maui on Wednesday morning.
Hundreds of people lined up at Maui Mall in Kahului for the store's grand opening. Barbara Jean Eberly was the first person in line. She showed up at 6:30 in the morning, two-and-a-half hours before the doors opened.
"I'm excited for the food. I can see from here all the fresh produce right through the door here," said Eberly.
The employees received a last-minute pep-talk inside the store.
"This is all about you now. This is about you making this your store for your community," said Patrick Bradley, regional president for Whole Foods.
After the company's traditional bread breaking ceremony, the customers poured in.
"We're absolutely thrilled to be here. We've been planning this store for years, so it's just been the culmination of a lot of hard work," said Maren Giuliano, regional vice president for Whole Foods.
The store's opening also gives local businesses a chance to showcase their products. Whole Foods is working with 60 vendors based on Maui, like Ono Gelato.
"It's made fresh daily. We always use Hawaiian products and organic products where possible, so you can taste the difference in the freshness of the product," explained Bill Kirton, owner of Ono Gelato.
Shoppers sampled the products while walking up and down each aisle. Whole Foods hopes customers will keep coming back for more.
"It's wonderful. It's great. I waited in line just for like an hour so it wasn't that bad. It's a beautiful store," said shopper Martha Chiesa.
"It's a great store. We have one in Minnesota where we're from," said shopper Chuck Koivisto.