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AUSTIN, Texas -- Whole Foods Market here is opening three stores on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, and one on the island of Maui, according to published reports, which note that company executives held a private blessing ceremony last week at the six-acre Kaka'ako site in Honolulu on Oahu, where a 67,00-square-foot store will open in January 2009.
Attending the ceremony were descendants of people whose remains were discovered at the site.
"The culture and the lifestyle of Hawaii is so aligned with the culture of Whole Foods Market that I think it's the perfect fit for us," Michael Besancon, Whole Foods' southern pacific region president, told a local television station, KHNL.
Additional locations will be in Kahala Mall in Honolulu and Kailua, both on Oahu, and Kahalui, Maui. The stores are slated to open between the end of 2008 through 2010.
The stores will be the first Whole Foods locations in the state, already home to a number of small health food stores, some of which fear being driven out of business by the increased competition, according to the TV station's report.
Whole Foods hopes to be a catalyst for more food production in Hawaii, the TV station report said.