Will Work for Food: Whole Foods Launches Two-Day Boise Hiring Blitz 

Nearly 500 applicants interviewed in two days

Officials with Whole Foods Market are still keeping their grand opening date close to the vest. But one thing is for certain: It will be open for the holiday shopping season.

When Boise Weekly asked, on a scale of 1-10, the chances of Whole Foods being open before Thanksgiving, Ben Friedland, Whole Foods Rocky Mountain Region Executive Marketing Coordinator said, "100."

"We fully appreciate the importance of being open before Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's," said Friedland. "That's when so many consumers are shopping different stores anyway."

Whole Foods officials are hoping to take the keys to their $13.4 million Broadway Avenue store Tuesday, Oct. 23. In the meantime, they're busy hiring as many as 200 employees, or as they like to call them, "team members." In fact, nearly 500 applicants poured into the Owyhee Plaza Hotel Oct. 8-9 in hopes of landing a job.

"We had more than 240 applicants come in [Oct. 9], and we had about that many come in for interviews [Oct. 8]," said Theresa Schuller from Whole Foods' Boulder, Colo., office, who shepherded would-be butchers, bakers and cashiers through a series of meetings with Whole Foods interviewers.

While Whole Foods officials say they offer competitive salary and benefits, they also present a unique incentive that only gets better as its workers' health improves.

"All of our team members receive a 20 percent discount at the store," said Friedland. "But depending on how well they test health-wise, they can be eligible for up to a 30 percent discount."

Friedland explained that employees are tested on their body mass index, cholesterol and blood pressure levels and whether they smoke. Depending on the employee's health status, he or she could be eligible for 22, 25, 27 or 30 percent discounts.

"It's a pretty unique way to help us manage the increasing cost of health care," he said.

The 35,000-square-foot store will be the first Whole Foods in Idaho. An accompanying 15,000-square-foot Walgreens across the parking lot is expected to open in late October.

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