FARMINGTON -- If the new Harmons grocery store were not so health-conscious, it could be referred to as a grocery store on steroids.
As Harmons opened its new Station Park store Monday morning, the thousands of customers who showed up to see their new neighborhood store had a lot to take in. From the free samples of all the food offered at the bakery, deli, Asian food wok bar and full salad bar, to the exciting additions such as the Cafe Celeste and on-site cooking school, there was a lot to taste.
"I was surprised so many people are here," said Harmons President Dean Peterson. "It has put stress on the team. I'm not sure they expected it. It's exceeded our expectations, honestly."
Some shoppers were at the store as early as 11 p.m. Sunday, in hopes of being one of the first 200 customers to receive a grocery bag full of food. Five of those bags had a $500 Harmons gift card inside.
Rhonda Greenwood, director of public relations for Crowell Advertising, said there were 800 cash register transactions during the first two hours the store was open. With close to 1,000 parking spaces in front of the store, empty parking spaces were still hard to find for most of the day.
The shoppers also got a good look at a grocery store committed to improving the health of its customers.
"People are far more educated about health," said Bob Harmon, co-owner and vice president of the 79-year-old local chain. "There is a lot more information that is available, so they're looking for someone to tell them how to eat healthy."
So Harmons has obliged.
The store will be the first grocery store in Davis County to have its own full-time registered dietitian on site to assist customers. Jessica LaRoche will conduct free wellness workshops as well as healthy living classes and individual nutrition counseling.
She also helped design a unique checkout stand at register No. 1. Instead of usual items filled with sugar in the aisle surrounding shoppers, only healthy food will tempt them as they check out.
"We went to a health and awareness conference, and that was one of the ideas," LaRoche said. "We thought we had enough time so we should do it."
Harmon said he is also proud that all of the wheat for its freshly baked-from-scratch artisan breads is local, as well as the majority of its cheese. Harmon also said the store will support local seasonal farmers.
"Anything we can bring in locally for our consumers, we're all about that," Harmon said.
Anne Wooley, of Farmington, said she thinks it is great that Harmons is so committed to supporting local farmers. She also is excited for the store to be in her neighborhood.
"We've been looking forward to this store for so long," Wooley said. "This offers a lot more variety. It's a lot bigger."
That kind of feedback brings a smile to Peterson's face.
"In all the surveys we have run, this area is ripe for this kind of store," he said. "It should be best numbers of an opening ever."