It's been a year and change since Detroit's Whole Foods grocery broke ground, and now the day has come. The store opens for shopping at 9 am today. But in the meantime: bands, speeches, general hoopla! Follow this LIVE blog for updates.
7:56AM: We're in. Tents upon tents line the Whole Foods parking zone. Maybe 50 people are already in line for the grand opening at 9AM. The tents are full of various vendors with wares already in the Whole Foods. Someone is playing bagpipes somewhere. It's on.
8:06AM: A dull roar has come from within the store. The entire WF staff seems to be getting amped up to get amped up? That, or they're staging a mutiny. The line grows. How long have they been here? "Since dawn!" says one lady in line.
8:32 AM: The Detroit Edison public academy marching band is playing "Get Ready" by the Temptations. We are so ready.
8:36 AM: The next song? Party Rock.
8:39 AM: No one is paying attention to the vendors, whose products will be available for purchase in the store when it opens in 20 minutes or so.
8:40 AM: There are maybe 250 people down here, and we're going to say about half of them are media. BTW, the media tent WiFi is down. Don't ask how we're making this magic happen.
8:43 AM: America's Most Important Grocery Store opted for breaking bread instead of cutting a ribbon to officially open. Everyone is staring at this large loaf of bread. Flavor and freshness are currently unknown.
8:49 AM: A policeman on a Segway scooter is looping endlessly around the Ellington Lofts building/Starbucks at Woodward and Mack. Needless to say, security is tight.
8:57 AM: The crowd is ballooning outside the entrance as human after human does the speech thing. Mayor Dave Bing is down here somewhere...
8:58 AM: It's pretty Twitter happy down here.
9:02 AM: Mayor Dave Bing found! We wonder if he sampled the Lobster.
9:07 AM: It seems the lone protestor has been chased off, just as the line reaches the corner of Mack Avenue. Which is to say, that is almost one full block of people in line. Insanity.
9:09 AM: Now that Whole Foods is all grown up and about to open, who wants to see a baby picture? Sachse Construction just fired off a press release about completing Detroit's New Whole Foods Market. Remember when we all had a much clearer view of a WSU parking garage? Ah memories.
9:15 AM: A MAJOR chain grocery store is OPEN in DETROIT!!! (It is Whole Foods).
9:17 AM: We can't handle the line so we're creepin' on the windows. It seems entering shoppers have to pass through a gauntlet of cheering Whole Foods employees.
9:21 AM: City Council President and ab workout enthusiast Charles Pugh is now shopping.
Council President Charles Pugh shops Whole Foods Detroit.— WholeFoods_Detroit (@WFMMetroDetroit) June 5, 2013
9:30 AM: Rumors of free lobster tail somewhere nearby are spreading through the parking lot crowd. We eventually found Craig of Craig's All Natural Lobsters amping up the crowd with his technique. The first available tail is divvied up and gobbled in seconds.
9:38 AM: The bread "ribbon" has been blasted to smithereens. People are picking at it like pigeons. A choir is now singing "My Funny Valentine."
9:46 AM: Choked with news vans and Whole Foods patrons, traffic on Mack is near gridlock. That horse is not helping.
9:47 AM: A wailing ambulance just plowed through the traffic, followed by the Segway cop, followed by a church van from which someone yelled, "YEAH. Whole Foods motherfucker!"
9:48 AM: We spotted Lobster Craig speed walking out of Whole Foods looking stressed and carrying a fresh mountain of lobster tails.
9:56 AM:Here's a slightly earlier picture of crowd craziness.
The line is still wrapped around the building but everyone is having a blast! pic.twitter.com/bKVdJzQKWl— WholeFoods_Detroit (@WFMMetroDetroit) June 5, 2013
9:57 AM: There are two lines. The one on the left is to get into the store. The one on the right is the line where no one is sure what they are in line for. One woman says it is "EVERYTHING."
9:58 AM: Mystery solved. The line on the right turns the corner and dead ends at the free food stand.
10:01 AM: Inside = Oh My God.
10:11 AM: Despite the chaos within, everyone inside seems determined to achieve a normal shopping trip. "Hummus is two for four dollars! That's really good," says one shopper, a news camera inches from her face.
10:28 AM: As customers check out, a dozen or so photographers snap photos as though they're at the finish line of a triathlon. They might as well be. It's hard to move down there.
10:29 AM: A few customers have wandered up to the community room on the second floor, all of them looking for the bathroom. (It is on the first level).
10:33 AM: Terrible news! No tap beer is being served today despite earlier assurances it would be available. The staff, too, seems disappointed by this. We may try to get bottled beer and drink it at one of the tables made of car hoods.
10:47 AM: Did someone not get the memo on how important this day is for Midtown Detroit? A terrible smell washed over the festivities outside. We tracked it down to Woodward Ave, where a surveying company was sucking lord-knows-what out of a sewer.
10:55 AM: We've now wandered over Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe, the nearby grocery store that opened last fall, after two years of delays. Current customer count: FOUR. In a moment of mournful perfection, the Kid Rock/Sheryl Crow duet "Picture" began to play.
11:23 AM: And with that this LIVE blog is done. Here's the scene in the Whole Foods parking lot as we depart.