With the cutting of a farm-style burlap "ribbon," Petaluma's newest and largest shopping center opened Wednesday morning as Sprouts Farmers Market became the first East Washington Place store to welcome customers.
Petaluma city leaders are depending on the East Washington Place center to infuse the city budget with much-needed sales-tax revenue.
Shoppers, meanwhile, were looking for deals.
Petalumans Erin Brotman and Sheryl Nadeau were the earliest arrivals, showing up 90 minutes before the doors opened at 7 a.m. to take advantage of a free bag of groceries and other goodies handed out to the first 200 customers.
"Petaluma has a new shopping center!" said a smiling Nadeau, who had her eye on some fresh produce. "And who doesn't like healthy food?"
The store is the Arizona-based Sprouts' 74th California store, its first in the North Bay.
The chain of stores grew out of a family produce stand opened in 1943.
Billed as a neighborhood grocery store that offers healthy choices at affordable prices, Sprouts features natural and organic products in addition to other foods, a large fresh produce section, natural meats, seafood delivered up to six days a week and more than 200 bins of bulk nuts, grains, spices, cereals, candies and trail mixes.
Dick's Sporting Goods opens on June 7, while the anchor store Target is planning a July opening. The center is on East Washington Street along Highway 101.