Confession: the flagship Whole Foods Market takes me to my happy place. When I first moved to our central Austin neighborhood from the heart of a big East coast city several years ago, it took some adjusting. In the city, we could walk everywhere including to the grocery store down the street — a Whole Foods.So sometime during my first few weeks to Austin, when I was feeling slightly down one day about the transition of moving, my husband and I drove to the giant flagship Whole Foods Market (525 N. Lamar) that everyone told us about. And when we walked in…I sighed with a sense of home. It was familiar. Comfort foods (especially vegan comfort foods) surrounded me like a sweet, Texas-sized hug.
Anyhow, I have since been pretty steady with my HEB. It’s convenient, friendly, and just around the corner from my house. The last thing I want to do is take my three kids grocery shopping, and when I do, I need it to be as quick and easy as possible.
But all summer long, I have been hearing that my lovely flagship Whole Foods Market has been offering FREE fun for kids. So I decided this was the perfect excuse to pack up my whole crew, brave my grocery-shopping-with-kids fear, and check it out.
(Update: Phillip is no longer hosting story time, but Whole Foods still offers the program on Wednesday mornings. Check the website for the current schedule).
Every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., you and your preschooler can walk upstairs to the mezzanine (the area with tables above the prepared foods section) where you will be greeted by the most welcoming, friendly face. Phillip is terrific with kiddos, and he does a great story and craft time geared towards 3-5 year-olds. Phillip gave folks time to get settled in and answered questions from kids as he read a book. Then he let everyone get up and get creative at the craft table. All of the children were so engaged in the craft activity that some kids were eager to do multiple projects. And following craft time (around 10:30 a.m.), there was a terrific FREE snack! On this particular day, children were able to make their own fruit, yogurt, and granola parfait. This got two thumbs up from the kids. Storytime with Phillip has been happening all summer, but the great news is that it is an on-going event through the school year, too.
It’s rare for me to leave a grocery store feeling happy and peppy with my boys at my side, but after such a fun morning with Phillip, we were able to all remain in a pleasant mood even after squeezing in a little shopping.
Sunday Kids Club:
In addition to the Wednesday free fun for preschoolers, the flagship Whole Foods Market also offers
activities on Sundays from noon – 2 p.m. geared towards school-aged kids. On Sundays, friendly and energetic Rachal is in charge. Each week, she provides an activity (crafting, cooking, or planting) for kids to stop in and do. For this, kids can come and go anytime in this two-hour block, and they do not need to be there right at noon to participate. Kids do not need to sign up or RSVP for the Kids Club, which is convenient for us parents. Rachal noted that she often tries to post the planned activity ahead of time on the Whole Foods Facebook page, but even if it doesn’t get posted, kids can count on something to do every Sunday.
After visiting on both Wednesday and Sunday, the boys asked to take the elevator (yay for pushing buttons!) to the rooftop playscape. My youngest loved being able to view tall buildings and cranes from this view. At age three, he seemed just the right size for this playscape. My seven-year-old was almost too big to fit into the tiny tunnels, etc. (although that didn’t stop him from trying). But the playground is just like a little cherry on top — extra fun after our crafting time.
Both the Wednesday Storytime and the Sunday Kids Club were very well organized and easy to jump into. It is important to note that neither are drop-off events, so parents are required to stay with their children at those times. My kids and I look forward to going back.
Whole Foods Market
525 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, Texas 78703
- Storytime: Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. in the mezzanine
- Kids Club: Sundays, noon – 2 p.m., location varies in the store, but look for the Kids Club sign or ask an employee to point you to the right spot.
**Check out what other local Whole Foods stores are offering for kids and families by visiting the Whole Foods Market website, searching for your store location, and viewing the Events Calendar.
Freelance web producer, Heidi Okla is mom to three boys (ages 3, 5, and 7), and can’t pass up any opportunity for fun family adventures.