Organic food: moving up

In the midst of all the grocery stores found in Ames, there is a pleasant surprise. Wheatsfield Cooperative is one of the few organic stores around Ames, known for carrying a large selection of natural products that are often difficult to find. While the store may not be as popular as some of its big name counterparts, it has built up a devoted customer base. One feature that especially attracts Wheatsfield’s customers is the quality of their products. "I like their Peace Pasta," senior Sarah Loucks said. "One time, I went to Wheatsfield with Kevin Arritt and Katie Williams and bought 10 boxes of Peace Pasta and ate all of them." "Their ravioli is amazing," junior Amanda Evans said. Another factor that appeals to customers is the atmosphere of Wheatsfield. Being a local business, the store conveys a sense of familiarity that is not often found in other grocery stores. "I enjoy meeting like-minded people there," English teacher Joe Brekke said. The business also strives to provide good customer service. "We try to make them [the customers] feel as welcome as we possibly can," said Erin Davis, marketing manager of Wheatsfield Cooperative. "The staff there are really cool," sophomore Whitney Manhart said. Wheatsfield has been at its current location in downtown Ames since 1980. However, major changes are taking place. The store has made plans to expand and officially broke ground at its new site on October 30. Construction is currently taking place at Wheatsfield’s future location on Northwestern Avenue, where Sigler Companies was formerly located. A number of factors caused Wheatsfield’s expansion. One major issue was space. "On busy days, it’s hard to get around the store," Davis said. "We have limited space for products; we need more square feet in order to make those sales." Unfortunately, the current building that Wheatsfield is located in has no existing space to move into, bringing about its relocation. Plans for the new store include three times more retail space, a deli with a seating area, a fresh meat department, a parking lot and more cash registers. The new store is expected to open in early 2009. Customers of Wheatsfield are eager to see its growth at its new location. "I think that it’s a great thing because it’ll be moving closer to my house," Loucks said. "I’m very excited about it, about having a deli and being able to get some prepared foods that are organic and locally grown," Brekke said. The customers of Wheatsfield are not the only ones excited about the future of the store. Through its expansion, the store is hoping to better cater to their customers and raise awareness of not only their business but also their role within Ames. "Once expansion is done, we’ll have more time to focus on being a part of the community," Davis said.