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First Impressions: Downtown Harmons draws smiles and a crowd

Specially tailored store opens downtown Salt Lake City doors

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 15 2012 10:30 p.m. MST

Grocery shoppers shop at the new City Creek Harmons store in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — It didn't take long for Elizabeth Mobley to pass judgement on the new Harmons grocery store's grand Wednesday in downtown Salt Lake City.

"It's fantastic," Mobley said after making the short walk from her downtown apartment. "It's bright, it's clean, there's incredible selection. You can sit and have a cup of coffee, take a cooking class, I've already signed up for one."

The grocery story is designed to feed the psyche of a new urban population as well as put food on the table for those working and living downtown. It opened at 9 a.m. Wednesday to a line of customers. And they kept coming throughout the afternoon to take a look.

The 70,000-square-foot store, at 135 E. 100 South, is the 16th in the Harmons chain and but tailored for a completely new environment in the surrounding City Creek project. A Deseret News pre-opening preview of the store revealed its Wi-Fi, stay-and-relax seating for 225 people, sushi bar, cooking school and more.

The store has many special features to fit its urban setting, including the full-service post office, validated parking and an anti-theft shopping cart system. In a sign of the times, don't expect to see plastic shopping bags at the checkout; there are none.

"I love that they're green," downtown resident Rosemary Olsen said with reusable shopping bag in hand. "Everything is colorful, and the people are friendly."

While the store is designed to serve the downtown area, not everyone at Wednesday's opening lived nearby. Some had stopped in on their way to work, and many, such as Carlos Chavez and David Williams of Murray, came to take a look at the newest addition to Salt Lake City's downtown development.

Still, it was the shoppers who lived nearby who seemed to be the most pleased. Todd Ridgway, who lives near the Capitol, said that he's been looking forward to the new Harmons since it was first announced. For him, the anticipation of the grocer alone has been as high as the rest of the City Creek.

"This cuts my grocery commute in half," he said. "I can ride my bike here, even."

Bob Harmon, a vice president and co-owner of the chain, said a lot of thought and effort went into the planning of the Harmons City Creek. The surroundings play into the motif that everything in this neighborhood is new.

"The whole creation of this store has been thrilling and exhausting," Harmon said. "We've done our best to be innovative and meet the challenges of this special space."

Email: bwood@desnews.com

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