The first Whole Foods Market in Whatcom County will officially open for business on Wednesday, May 11. Over 100 employees have been hired from around Whatcom County, including Western and community college students. Susan Livingston, executive marketing coordinator for Whole Foods, said there has been a steady flow of requests from the public for this location over the past six years. “The values of this community seem to be very related to our values,” Livingston said. “We’re a mission-based for profit. We believe deeply in making a difference in everything that we’re apart of.” Whole Foods has over 300 local products from Whatcom County sources, such as Bellewood Acres, Spring Time Farm, Moon Valley Organics, Ferndale Farmstead and Aslan Brewing Company — including 30 products discovered at the Local Vendor Fair. Aslan Brewing Company teamed up with the Bellingham location to create an IPA beer for the opening of the store called Illmatic. Whole Foods has multiple rating systems to ensure their products are natural and organic. The five-step rating system by Global Animal Partnership certifies the animal welfare of beef, chicken, pork and turkey. The Responsibly Grown rating system for produce and flowers protects human health, environment and prohibits chemicals. The store has a bag-refund program where people can receive 10 cents off their purchase if they use a reusable shopping bag or they can donate their bag to a charity at the register. The first charities to receive donations will be Lydia Place and the Whatcom Humane Society. The opening will feature a traditional, and literal, bread-breaking ceremony starting at 8:30 a.m. with speeches from Mayor Kelli Linville, the regional president of Whole Foods and the store manager. The new location will be on 1030 Lakeway Drive, across the street from Fred Meyer. For more information, you can visit wfm.com/bellinghamlakeway.