The shelves are almost completely stocked, a last dab of paint is drying here and there and workers are scurrying about tidying up the new Whole Foods Market in West Ashley ahead of its grand opening Wednesday.
The upscale supermarket generally welcomes about 500 people through its doors immediately after it opens. Store manager Debbie Pelkie hopes it's more like a 1,000 standing outside.
Pelkie doesn't want a parking or traffic problem, but says it would be nice to see high demand for the Charleston region's second Whole Foods Market.
"The more, the merrier," she said.
The parking lot — shared by other merchants, including Doscher's IGA supermarket — has room for just over 300 cars. To handle the expected rush of customers early Wednesday, Charleston Police Department will have officers in the area and will manually work traffic lights on Savannah Highway at Farmfield Drive, West Oak Forest Drive and Parkwood Estates if necessary.
"They will work to keep traffic flowing if they have to," Pelkie said.
In the parking lot, the store will use valets to direct people to open spaces on opening day.
Whole Foods' 140 employees won't be parking there.
During the first couple of weeks, and possibly longer, they will be parking down the street at Ashley River Baptist Church.
As some workers direct traffic and crowds gather outside to help launch the new store, employees will gather around a table inside for the traditional breaking of a massive loaf of bread before the new grocer opens. What's not eaten will be donated to charity.
Shoppers will find samples throughout the store and vendors talking about their products into the weekend.
In the deli section, Belinda Kowalski stocked the shelves Tuesday. She called last-minute preparations "organized chaos," but said the store will be ready.
"I think it's a great addition to West Ashley," she said.
Nearby, workers waited in line for pizza while a speaker on a display case pumped out Parliament singing "Flash Light." Not to worry, longtime Whole Foods shoppers, this was for employees only. Traditional shopping music will be playing Wednesday inside and under the awning for outside diners.
In preparation for the opening, most of the store's local workforce was allowed to stay home Tuesday to rest up before the launch. Many of the workers inside — hoisting a "Local" banner over fresh tomatoes or throwing a tarp over potatoes and onions to keep them fresh — came from the company's regional office in Atlanta.
"As far as I can tell it's one of the best stores I've seen in a long time," said Tony Deserto, the company's regional prepared foods coordinator who has worked on 28 store openings in 10 years.
Heather Hall, a 12-year veteran of the company who coordinates produce and floral arrangements out of Atlanta, said fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers are the last thing to be put on display, but they will be the first thing customers see when they walk through the door.
She plans to get an early start around 4 a.m. to finish out the fresh berry cases, the last items set out before the store opens.
"It's looking very good," Hall said.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg called the store's opening another step in the revitalization of West Ashley.