Whole Foods Market to open second Charleston-area store

Whole Foods Market offers a large selection of prepared foods for lunch on the go. File/Staff

The Charleston area soon will have two Whole Foods Market stores.

The Texas-based, upscale grocery chain announced during its third-quarter earnings report Wednesday that it has signed a lease for a new store in Charleston.

The site was not announced.

“That is all the detail we are releasing at this time,” company spokesman Michael Silverman said.

Some speculation has centered on the Morris Sokol Furniture site, which is closing after 94 years at 510 King St. Building owner Joe Sokol said Wednesday, “I have heard nothing about it.”

The city is planning a 600-plus space parking deck behind the store to accommodate an unnamed “national retailer.”

There has also been speculation that Whole Foods might go to West Ashley.

The Charleston store is one of four new Whole Foods Markets planned for the retailer. Others are in Akron, Ohio; Exton, Pa.; and Kirkland, Wash.

Whole Foods Market operates another store in Mount Pleasant at 923 Houston Northcutt Blvd. in Patriots Plaza Shopping Center. It opened in 2004 in a former 42,000-square-foot Bi-Lo grocery store.

In its earnings report, the grocer said the average size of the four new leased locations is 48,000 square feet.

The company operates 424 stores and has 114 stores in development.

Whole Foods, which is based in Austin, Texas, is trying to find new ways to drive up sales as organic foods become more widely available. At the same time, it’s also trying to appeal to a broader audience by shaking its “Whole Paycheck” image and offering more affordable prices.

In May, the company said it would open a new chain of smaller stores with lower prices starting next year. To emphasize the affordability, the new format will be named after the company’s 365 house brands. The Charleston store will be a standard-size Whole Foods Market.

For the full fiscal year, the chain said Wednesday that it expects sales at established locations to rise in the low single-digit percentages, down from the previous forecast of growth in the low- to mid-single digits.

For the third quarter ended July 5, the company earned $154 million, or 43 cents a share. Analysts expected 45 cents a share, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Total revenue was $3.63 billion, also short of the projected $3.7 billion.

A year ago the company earned $151 million, or 41 cents a share, on revenue of $3.38 billion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.