Will You Necessity Shop at Whole Foods?

A recent New York Times article says that Whole Foods is trying to change its image to attract more shoppers searching for everyday items. Executives hope that Whole Paycheck, the nickname it has earned due to its high-priced items, will go away.

It might be a tough battle. Says the article: “Told of the company’s budget pitch by a reporter, some Whole Foods customers said they had not noticed cheaper prices; a few laughed.”” In our case, we love Whole Foods but have to admit to rarely shopping there because of the prices. However, the costs at our local grocery store seem to have increased so much, we might as well start hitting the Whole Paycheck.

Do you think that Whole Foods is deserving of its reputation? Can it change that image, or should consumers just expect to pay more for higher quality goods?

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19 Responses to “Will You Necessity Shop at Whole Foods?”


  1. 1 greendiamond August 5, 2008 at 8:19 am

    In the competitive Buckhead/Atlanta market, a trip to Whole Foods is what I term “adult Disney World w/o the rides.” The stores I visit are clean, very organized and well stocked. I know what to expect when entering Whole Foods. But for everyday items, I spread my business around; a bargain is still a bargain.

  2. 2 James August 5, 2008 at 8:39 am

    We shop the W’s. Buy commodities like soap and toilet paper at Walmart, then we buy the good stuff at Whole Foods. Organic good tasting food matters. As Americans most of us can eat less especially if we’ll focus on eating more less-processed food.
    It is surprising how many food dollars used to go to junk food. If there’s a need to cut back avoid 1) the chip aisle 2) the soda pop aisle, 3) the crackers and snack aisle and 4) the candy display. All high carbo stuff that does nothing for you but adds substantially to your tonage. Spend the savings on a decent bottle of wine.
    Loose weight, save money, enjoy food more and live longer, what’s wrong with that! Whole Foods IS a necessity!

  3. 3 E August 5, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Hate to be so cynical, but I think prices-bargains will rule over nutritional-health issues for quite awhile. If Whole Foods can offer the diversity of products at an affordable level, they can start to bury the “Whole Paycheck” tag.

    They won’t bury it overnight, but you’d be surprised how good word-of-mouth is when it comes to retail grocery chatter with neighbors, office-colleagues, etc.

    Besides, today, the “Whole Paycheck” tag really belongs to Exxon-Mobil at the gas-pump, doesn’t it?!

  4. 4 Christy August 5, 2008 at 9:04 am

    I love the Whole Foods experience so much that I have to drive 30 minutes to get to one – and I do it religiously. Have for 2 years now. In my local food store chains (Superfresh, Acme, Safewway, Giant) the selection of organic produce is lousy – it’s not fresh, nearly spoiled and even more expensive than my Whole Foods.

    What I love the most about Whole Foods is the actual shopping experience. I look forward to being in a happy place. The staff on the floor and at the registeres is so nice, friendly, outgoing and helpful – there is just peace and good karma everywhere. It’s so nice to shop somewhere that the teenagers are actually polite and helpful. The Whole Food consumers are a pleasure to shop along side of – they are polite, there are no parents screaming at kids, they are educated in nutrition and recycling, interested in their own health and that of the planet, and have come there to make a difference in their lives and the lives of their children and families by getting them off the toxins and chemicals that are altering the genetics of our future generations.

    Can’t say enough good things about it! I don’t see it as a Whole Paycheck, I see it as having a Whole Life.

  5. 5 Joshua August 5, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Over the weekend I went to Whole Foods on the Bowery in NYC and noticed: (a) to my knowledge, they have the lowest price for a gallon of milk anywhere in the city; and (b) my total check came out about 15% below the number I was unscientifically expecting. So maybe that’s a start.

  6. 6 Caffeinated Charlie August 5, 2008 at 9:42 am

    We, unfortunately, live in an area void of Whole Foods or even a Trader Joes. We’re often reduced to shopping for groceries at Super Target. Good luck finding anything organic there.

    Worse, we’re one of the thousands and thousands of 2 parent working, commuting families who have stupidly turned McDonalds into our grocery story.

    We are anticipating the opening of a Fresh N Easy (can’t even remeber if that’s the right name.) and hope this makes a difference in our lives. Still, if they price themselves out of realistic bounds, it’s back to Super Target or Walmart.

  7. 7 gary August 5, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Whole Foods has missed– though it’s not too late– a major opportunity to brand, and literally exploit its high-quality, value priced private labels, the most notable being ‘365’. Major offerings include cereals, grains, nuts, cooking oils and salad dressings oils, sugar free sodas, healthy snacks and other categories too numerous to mention. Product typically occupies space within each store’s interior, on shelves adjacent to other high quality, national names found in smaller specialty stores like Trader Joe’s, and in more limited quantities in conventional grocers, Kroger and Safeway, and even smaller amounts in Super Target.

    A side-by-side, market basket comparison between 365 and other high quality nationally branded upscale items, with similar ingredients and nutrition, would clearly demonstrate this house brands’ lower price and excellent value equation. Only after the best kept food industry secret is effectively communicated to other than its core customers will Whole Foods rise above and differentiate itself from so-called competitors.

  8. 8 gary August 5, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Don’t understand what is needed.

  9. 9 CR August 5, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Wegman’s is waaaay better than Whole Foods. I wish Bobby & Family could bring one here to NYC.

  10. 10 Mary August 5, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    You never know in Southern California if you’re going to catch an employee on a good day. It runs about 50%. So I definitely don’t count on superior customer service! I go there for the great produce and other organic and specialty items. I occasionally see a great deal and stock up. But it’s not common. I love the 365 brand. While I’ll continue shopping at Whole Foods, I’ll probably keep cutting back on my shopping list until prices go down.

  11. 11 Nancy H August 5, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    I am a Whole-Foods virgin…not been to one yet. I guess I will venture into a WF and see what I think – but based on their rep for high prices, I haven’t been too anxious to rush there. Here in AZ we have Sprouts, which I love for good produce and organic foods at very reasonable prices. Their meats and breads are fabulous, too. These days we pretty much bargain shop everywhere. Store coupons are a big deal in my house, and we will go where the sales are. There is at least one of every grocery store available within about a mile of us, so commuting for the best price isn’t an issue. I will say, though, the last place on this planet you will find me for food (or just about anything unless I am completely desperate) is Walmart. Low prices aren’t everything.

  12. 12 Ron Winter August 5, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Shopping is a matter of convience and the majority of the time our family shops at the local grocercy store which has a great butcher shop, fresh fish, nice produce and good selection of other food products. If they don’t have it and you ask they will get it for you. On the other hand the Safeway is a shop only out of necessity type feeling. Late at night and need two items run to Safeway. Wholefoods is a decission to take time , drive the twenty minutes and shop. Once there never disappointed, always buy more than I need , and enjoy the experience. The premade foods are nice, and haven’t really noticed the prices being higher especially considering the quality. Having once been in the processed food business I know that every can of beans or corn is not the same and the quality can very widely from brand to brand. When the time is available Wholefoods is worth the trip.

  13. 13 wil August 5, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    I’ve been a loyal Whole Foods customer since the early 90s, when the company invaded Northern Virginia. Now I’m in Colorado and I still love the Whole Foods experience. Seafood, vegetables, & fruit are my favorites. Plus they make a great cheese pizza.

  14. 14 Aaron August 6, 2008 at 8:55 am

    I’m afraid Whole Food’s just isn’t close enough. I would buy everything there if they were just convenient. It’s approximately 10 miles and we have a very nice albertsons about 3 miles from us. I think the best way WF could prepare for the next upswing in the market is to establish presence or at least lock up space at more locations. There presence is just somewhat insignificant in the world of grocers.

  15. 15 Austinite August 6, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Whole Foods was to the grad student at UT what Louis Vuitton is to the aspiring ad exec in NY: Aspirational, perhaps an occasional indulgence during an insane spree, but nowhere near a weekly errand run.

  16. 16 Austinite August 6, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Interesting, though, I received an email from Whole Foods offering $500 to shop there…..
    maybe they need new customers.

  17. 17 Just a thought August 6, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    My 3 year old son has milk, nuts, and fish allergy and my husband is deathly allergic to fish. Milk is in almost everything, it seems! I am so thankful for Whole Foods & Trader Joe’s. There is a greater variety of foods to choose from at these stores for families with allergies. The first time I visited WF, I was overwhelmed with what to safely feed my son. They gave me a personal shopper who was much more knowledgeable and helpful than the doctor we had seen. I would be lost without these stores! I must admit to shopping at Trader Joe’s on a weekly basis because of location and prices. Trader Joe’s is much cheaper but they have fewer items. No matter what, organic is expensive but I believe we get what we pay for. WF is disney w/out the rides for those looking for delicious, fresh and organic foods. It is a NECESSITY for those of us with allergies – the run of the mill supermarkets have hardly tipped the ice berg on the allergy subject. I pray that we keep Whole Foods here!

  18. 18 Mission1and2 August 7, 2008 at 2:19 am

    Whole Foods has a Mission Statement with two goals: 1. Change the way the world eats; and 2. Create a workplace based on love and respect. These lofty goals set the company apart from the assembly-line like self-service grocery store format that, today, is the industry standard. This standard norm evolved from such revolutionary retailers as A&P grocery stores(Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company later became A&P)and Piggly Wiggly out of Tennessee between 1900 and WWI. The old grocery store format of the frontier and early days of European immigrant grocers, where the retailer both knew the every whim and preference of his customers and provided the product by selecting it behind the grocer counter, was quickly discarded for the never ending race to bottom of the profit line and price. Whole Foods is, once again, bringing back the personal touch to being a grocer. People respond to this and will pay the price for it (as long as the economy is doing well), generally. Whole Foods is also trying to revolutionize how the consumer considers what food they’ll put in their bodies and the social ramifications of bringing certain family run coffee beans to the market. Whole Food cares about societal effects of grocery retailing, the distributor, the inherent power struggle of retailers, distributors and large corporations and their effect on the local food producers in countries such as South Africa. Their executives really do care about such matters, and they’re betting their money that there are enough people/consumers out there who care, too. To some consumers, that kind of thinking, is essential to their form of “necessity shopping.”

  19. 19 Is Price the Only Necessity? August 7, 2008 at 2:37 am

    If price is the main or only necessity for grocery shopping, then the stock of 99cents Only Stores (located in CA, AZ, NV and now TX)should go through the ceiling. You can buy a carton of blueberries for 99cents, asparagas for 99cents, a carton of mushrooms for 99cents, 3-5 large yellow, red and green bell peppers in a carton for 99cents. Sixty-five percent of what is sold in a 99cents Only Store are consumables. So forget about Wal-Mart and Target for groceries, and make room for the 99 cents Only Stores!


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