Thursday, March 01, 2007

NYT: Has Whole Foods Lost Its Way?

A story in yesterday’s New York Times (currently #4 in the top ten list of most e-mailed stories) used the Whole Foods Market/Wild Oats deal as a springboard to ask if our hometown grocery concern has strayed from its roots.

Reporter Marian Burros' cursory tours of eight Whole Foods stores in the Washington, D.C. and New York City areas revealed green potatoes, wrinkled tomatoes and brown haricots. I don’t know if this really proves anything other than the fact that produce spoils regardless of the mark-up.

And pardon my provinciality, but just what in the hell is a haricot, anyway? It sounds like something a 19th century farm girl would’ve worn on her head to signify she wasn’t a slut.

Growth and success have obviously changed Whole Foods in the last 27 years, but I would still say their influence on the eating habits of Americans has been quite positive on the “whole.” The fact that we’re even having this discussion sort of confirms it.

Going forward, I think the company’s biggest challenge will be to find a way to expand its “natural foods” market share among non-elites while maintaining elite customer loyalty via expensive pastries and such. To the former end, redeveloping smaller Wild Oats stores as limited service “neighborhood markets” could prove to be an excellent hedge against Trader Joe’s.

I swear I'm not just saying that because I don't want the only grocery store within walking distance from my house to be a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

1 comment:

jennifer said...

Haricots verts are green beans, I believe, although you could be right about the slut thing..

When o when will Austin get a Trader Joe's? WHEN?