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One of Our Hidden Gems: Sonoma in California

With over 340 stores (and counting!), we’ve got a lot of hidden gems out there. Get the story behind the store in this eight-store series. Maybe your local store will be featured next! (Read on to find out how you could win a $50 gift card to Whole Foods Market®. UPDATE: Thanks to everyone that entered. Congrats to our randomly chosen winner, Courtney F.!)

With over 340 stores (and counting!), we’ve got a lot of hidden gems out there. Get the story behind the store in this eight-store series. Maybe your local store will be featured next! (Read on to find out how you could win a $50 gift card to Whole Foods Market®. UPDATE: Thanks to everyone that entered. Congrats to our randomly chosen winner, Courtney F.!)

Today we’re talking with Paul Barron, the new Marketing Team Leader at the Sonoma store in California.

Sonoma

What’s the best-kept secret at your store?

It’s got to be HelloCello’s Limoncello di Sonoma. So good.  And grown, produced, bottled and sold right here in Sonoma County. It’s made with ingredients from small farms in Northern California, like organic lemons, grappa distilled from biodynamic grapes, as well as fairly-traded agave sugar. It’s only available online or at our store, and it’s a citrusy, fresh and crisp true taste of Sonoma!

Rafi's Wrap

What’s the tastiest dish in your store right now?Rafi, one of our Team Members in the Whole Body department, is a sandwich genius. The sandwich she custom built one day in our Prepared Foods department is so good we decided to make it a feature. Rafi’s “That’s a Wrap” is tuna, kale, feta, tomatoes, shallots, walnuts, lemon juice and walnut oil in your choice of wrap. It’s super popular, and only available through the end of March. Get it now and thank Rafi later.

Tell us about one rock star Team Member.

If you’ve ever shopped at our store, you probably already know our Team Leader in Specialty, Chris Moonsammy. Team Members and shoppers absolutely love this guy. He’s spent years working in Michelin-starred and award-winning restaurants like Cindy Pawlcyn’s Mustard’s Grill, so not only does he know a ton about wine, cheese and really any other ingredient, but his customer service is exceptionally great too.

For example: a customer asked about the difference in three different colors of miso. Chris stepped in and gave a full tutorial (hint: it has to do with how they’re processed. If you want to know the full scoop, stop by and ask Chris!). And when our store had to stop carrying Devonshire Cream, Chris was able to tell a customer how to recreate it with basic ingredients she probably already had in her home. He always goes the extra mile, and we’re so happy to have him in Sonoma!

What’s the most popular local product your store carries?

Dips and spreads from the popular local restaurant The Girl and The Fig fly off our shelves. Clover Milk and cheeses from Vella and Cowgirl Creamery are also super popular. But I’d have to say the Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Elder Double India Pale Ale is the winner here. We get limited amounts and it sells out in a flash. And actually, this is a timely question because during the first week of April, we’re doing a pop-up booth in somewhere in Sonoma and we’ll be serving Pliny the Elder… watch for us (or just come by the store and pick up your case early!).

Whatcha got going on with local schools or non-profits?

I am so excited about these. First, we’re finalizing a title sponsorship for the Valley of the Moon Certified Farmer’s Market! We’ll be in the Plaza every Tuesday with local farmers to support them as they share their amazing products with around 2,000 shoppers. One of our Core Values is Caring about our Communites, and this is one way we can directly do that.

We’re also building a partnership with La Luz Center, which provides English language and computer skills training, distributes food, offers crisis and medical services and supports multicultural events among the Latino community. We’re starting by sponsoring a Cinco de Mayo potlock there; we’ll roast a whole wild boar, bring all kinds of tasty sides and make a party of it.

Limoncello

What else makes your store a “hidden gem”?A lot of people don’t know we have some great value options. We’re a “hidden gem” because we’re a one-stop shop for all your wine country vacation and picnic needs – and with coupons and the 365 Everyday Value brand in the basket, shoppers can really save money. This, of course, is great because it leaves more in your wallet to purchase the delicious wines you taste while you’re here!

Plus, we’re close to the Square, where open containers are allowed. You can buy some Limoncello di Sonoma and a Rafi’s Wrap and head to the Square for a lovely evening.

Now that you know what makes our Sonoma store shine in California – tell us: what makes your local store a hidden gem?

Share your comment below by Sunday, March 31 and you’ll be entered to win a $50 Whole Foods Market gift card. Enter once on each “hidden gems” blog post, running from March 20 – March 29, for more chances to win.

The fine print: No purchase necessary. Promotion ends 3/31/12, 11:59 PM CDT. Must be a legal resident of the US or Canada (except in Quebec, where it is void) age 18 or older to participate. Taxes on prize, if applicable, are the responsibility of the winner. Employees of Whole Foods Market, Inc., are not eligible. Void where prohibited.

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