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Behold, the Antichrist: Whole Foods

Behold, the Antichrist: Whole Foods
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  • Behold, the Antichrist: Whole Foods

    Post #1 - October 5th, 2007, 12:11 pm
    Post #1 - October 5th, 2007, 12:11 pm Post #1 - October 5th, 2007, 12:11 pm
    Behold, the Antichrist: Whole Foods

    When Whole Foods manifested itself in nearby River Forest, the people rejoiced. Walking amidst lush organic greens, rich slabs of marbled meats, exotic chocolates and cheeses, we thought this place was, indeed, a vision of gustatory heaven on Earth.

    Recently I’ve detected rumblings of discontent. Just this morning, I heard from a distributor who was once a supplier to Whole Foods and will no longer do business with them because of their allegedly bullying demands, their insistence upon special terms and other business practices that make it hard for those who contributed to the company’s success to continue doing so.

    The values of the corporation, as stated by John Mackey, seem upright and downright decent: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blogs/j ... g_the.html

    Mackey seems an honorable man, but there are costs associated with bigness, and it’s hard to deny that in many ways, Whole Foods is becoming the Wal-Mart of high-end groceries. When a powerful buying organization faces the need to continuously increase profits, the suppliers – growers of microgreens, artisanal cheesemakers, small soap factories – will be squeezed. It seems inevitable.

    Hammond

    PS. I bought a hundred shares of Whole Foods on a whim in 1997; one of the best investments I ever made; wish I had bought a thousand or two more.
    “We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
  • Post #2 - October 5th, 2007, 1:43 pm
    Post #2 - October 5th, 2007, 1:43 pm Post #2 - October 5th, 2007, 1:43 pm
    When customers start complaining I'll become concerned. When a former supplier complains, and we don't know the motivation behind the complaints, I'm naturally suspicious. Whole Foods, as you know, is a huge business and from what you've said here I don't see that the company is behaving differently from other similar companies in the same industry - practices which, I'm recalling, date back at least a couple of decades ago and largely instituted by Sears when that company was an industry leader. Maybe people have mistakenly placed Whole Foods on some sort of altar and expectations are, and have been, not only unrealistic but unreasonable. The stock in the company has risen by about 600% over the years, from what I've read - and I'm assuming investors (and the vast majority of customers) are satisfied.
  • Post #3 - October 5th, 2007, 1:47 pm
    Post #3 - October 5th, 2007, 1:47 pm Post #3 - October 5th, 2007, 1:47 pm
    Whole Foods is neither good nor bad -- nor can it be. It is a publically held corporation, which means it has a fiduciary duty to it's shareholders to maximize profits. It is amoral.

    I have lots of problems with Whole Foods. The first problem is that they were among the popularizers of the notion that organic food is both healthier to eat and better for the environment. There is no evidence of the former and the latter is (to say the least) very debatable.

    I also dislike the holier than thou attitude of the employees.

    They have also set themselves in a niche that allows them to charge premium prices because shopping there is morally correct. It allows upper middle class folks to spend excess money (smacking of the selling of dispensations of the Catholic Church) and feel virtuous about it. And that notion, of course, is nonsense.

    I also have a problem with their bread. It is awful.

    All that said, I still shop their because of the quality of much of their merchandise.

    But have no illusions. Whole Foods is just as much of a profit making enterprise as Jewel, Dominicks, the OTB or a steel mill. They put forth certain ideals because they think it will get them money.
    Last edited by AngrySarah on October 5th, 2007, 1:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    I'm not Angry, I'm hungry.
  • Post #4 - October 5th, 2007, 1:48 pm
    Post #4 - October 5th, 2007, 1:48 pm Post #4 - October 5th, 2007, 1:48 pm
    Bill wrote:Whole Foods, as you know, is a huge business and from what you've said here I don't see that the company is behaving differently from other similar companies in the same industry


    I'm pretty sure you're right about that.

    Bill wrote:The stock in the company has risen by about 600% over the years, from what I've read - and I'm assuming investors (and the vast majority of customers) are satisfied.


    You bet we are.
    “We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
  • Post #5 - October 5th, 2007, 1:52 pm
    Post #5 - October 5th, 2007, 1:52 pm Post #5 - October 5th, 2007, 1:52 pm
    I'll admit that I don't like Whole Foods and though I've walked-in thinking to purchase things probably three dozen times over the years (including in the River Forest store, which was not far from my Oak Park home) . . . I've actually only found something I thought held good value for me - two or three of those times. I find the place so much fuss over nothing. So, I really don't have a horse in the race. For all of the customers who really care about the place, I wish you success.
  • Post #6 - October 5th, 2007, 1:56 pm
    Post #6 - October 5th, 2007, 1:56 pm Post #6 - October 5th, 2007, 1:56 pm
    AngrySarah wrote:They have also set themselves in a niche that allows them to charge premium prices because shopping there is morally correct. It allows upper middle class folks to spend excess money (smacking of the selling of dispensations of the Catholic Church) and feel virtuous about it. And that notion, of course, is nonsense.


    When I was in graduate school, we had a guest speaker who worked on one of Whole Foods' first marketing campaigns when they were will still but a wee local store in Austin. They recognized then that they would never be able to compete with any of the other grocery stores on price (or often even selection), so they decided to sell their ideology. I agree with AngrySarah that the whole notion of paying a premium to feel more virtuous is nonsense, but its been a very successful marketing strategy.
  • Post #7 - October 5th, 2007, 2:12 pm
    Post #7 - October 5th, 2007, 2:12 pm Post #7 - October 5th, 2007, 2:12 pm
    I went into their Evanston, IL store three weekends ago just to kill an hour as I was waiting for a METRA rail.

    What I found very irritating is that there were at least **SIX** produce items labelled as "LOCALLY GROWN" that were grown in CALIFORNIA or WASHINGTON state. That is not local to me.

    I give them credit. They have taken what is essentially a low-margin commodity business and made it into a much higher margin business.

    Egads, I would not like to have to shop there on a weekly basis as it would easily double my food budget.
  • Post #8 - October 5th, 2007, 2:23 pm
    Post #8 - October 5th, 2007, 2:23 pm Post #8 - October 5th, 2007, 2:23 pm
    On the whole, I'm largely ambivalent about Whole Foods - I don't shop there regularly (mainly because of price) but I will stop in, usually for seafood, and I like their cheese and wine selection.

    However, once while shopping in the mothership Whole Foods that was built in Austin a few years ago, my wife and I experienced some of the "holier than thou" attitude that AngrySarah noted. Not wanting to pay upward of $10/lb for organic garlic, we asked an employee where we could find their "conventional" garlic. He looked at us like we just asked where we could have a puppy skinned and filleted and told us they didn't sell conventional garlic. We abandoned our half-full cart and headed to H-E-B.
  • Post #9 - October 5th, 2007, 2:39 pm
    Post #9 - October 5th, 2007, 2:39 pm Post #9 - October 5th, 2007, 2:39 pm
    AngrySarah wrote: The first problem is that they were among the popularizers of the notion that organic food is both healthier to eat and better for the environment. There is no evidence of the former and the latter is (to say the least) very debatable.


    Thank you. This is a pet peeve of mine. I don't shop at WF because I just plain can't afford the foods they carry that I would eat - but I'm appalled at how much stuff they carry that I won't eat. Case in point - the cereal aisle. It's filled with just as much junk as a conventional grocery store; many of the cereals are just as sugar-filled and fiber-free - the difference being that it's marketed in earth tones. Frozen foods are pretty much the same.

    I don't so much the $5/lb for tomatoes that taste like a tomato, but please hold the side of high horse...
  • Post #10 - October 5th, 2007, 2:52 pm
    Post #10 - October 5th, 2007, 2:52 pm Post #10 - October 5th, 2007, 2:52 pm
    I've stated it before, but my biggest problem with WF is their aggressive, acquisitive corporate policies. Locally, they bought out the excellent, locally-owned Oak Street Market. Then Fresh Fields opened up. WF bought them out, too, and closed that store. Now they've purchased Wild Oats, and I'm waiting to see what they'll do with that store (which is less than a mile from the local WF).

    And at the same time, they present an image of supporting, the little local guy (unless that little local guy is a competitor, obviously).
  • Post #11 - October 5th, 2007, 3:04 pm
    Post #11 - October 5th, 2007, 3:04 pm Post #11 - October 5th, 2007, 3:04 pm
    . . . my wife and I experienced some of the "holier than thou" attitude that AngrySarah noted.

    This is the vibe I get from many customers, too, when I'm in a Whole Foods.
  • Post #12 - October 5th, 2007, 3:14 pm
    Post #12 - October 5th, 2007, 3:14 pm Post #12 - October 5th, 2007, 3:14 pm
    my wife and I experienced some of the "holier than thou" attitude that AngrySarah noted.

    Sorry to turn this into a "pile-on" but this thread reminded me of my recent experience at the Ashland location. I stopped in to purchase meat for steak sandwiches & a salad I was planning to make. I noticed a cut of beef on sale for a reasonable price in the larger "roast" portions. I asked for 1 pound of the cut (not tenderloin, but I'm blanking on the actual cut) and the man working the meat counter said that was basically a steak and started to grab one of the pieces of that particular cut they already had portioned as steaks. I was fine with this until I noticed that the steaks were priced $1 more per pound. I stopped him and said I wanted the one that was cheaper. He rolled his eyes at me and said "it's only a dollar." Very off-putting.
  • Post #13 - October 5th, 2007, 3:26 pm
    Post #13 - October 5th, 2007, 3:26 pm Post #13 - October 5th, 2007, 3:26 pm
    David Hammond wrote:Recently I’ve detected rumblings of discontent. Just this morning, I heard from a distributor who was once a supplier to Whole Foods and will no longer do business with them because of their allegedly bullying demands, their insistence upon special terms and other business practices that make it hard for those who contributed to the company’s success to continue doing so.


    WF is no different than Target or WalMart in this respect. I have a friend in the biz of designing/selling toys/candy/assorted tchotchkies and has dealt with Target many times. They either whittle suppliers' margins down to the most miniscule or they screw with you for a few months claiming that you "need to work on the packaging". Then 3 months later, an exact copy of your item is on their shelves.
  • Post #14 - October 5th, 2007, 3:47 pm
    Post #14 - October 5th, 2007, 3:47 pm Post #14 - October 5th, 2007, 3:47 pm
    tem wrote: they screw with you for a few months claiming that you "need to work on the packaging". Then 3 months later, an exact copy of your item is on their shelves.


    Within the last year Williams and Sonoma filed a suit against Target for copying design ideas.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #15 - October 5th, 2007, 4:03 pm
    Post #15 - October 5th, 2007, 4:03 pm Post #15 - October 5th, 2007, 4:03 pm
    AngrySarah wrote:The first problem is that they were among the popularizers of the notion that organic food is both healthier to eat and better for the environment.


    I went to WF yesterday to buy some fish and they were heavily promoting "Organic Carving Pumpkins" for something over $1/lb. Why in the wide wide world of sports would anyone want to spend that much for a pumpkin that will not be eaten? You've got to be someone who has injested an extra large portion of do gooder kool aid to fall for that marketing crap.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #16 - October 5th, 2007, 4:10 pm
    Post #16 - October 5th, 2007, 4:10 pm Post #16 - October 5th, 2007, 4:10 pm
    Basically, I see all these complaints as arising from the notion that Whole Foods, while it is a very large corporation, is somehow supposed to act like a small, locally-owned health food store. Whole Foods is a very large corporation and doesn't pretent to be anything else. The fact that some of its employees provide less than courteous service is to be expected. That fact that it takes a hard line with suppliers is not exactly a headline. What Whole Foods has done is to mainstream organic foods. It took a tiny, niche item and managed to create a large, mainstream market for it. And it did so, while no doubt in part to make money, but also because of a belief that organic items are better. I, frankly, have great admiration for this.

    Jonah
  • Post #17 - October 5th, 2007, 7:18 pm
    Post #17 - October 5th, 2007, 7:18 pm Post #17 - October 5th, 2007, 7:18 pm
    nr706 wrote:Now they've purchased Wild Oats, and I'm waiting to see what they'll do with that store (which is less than a mile from the local WF).


    Hopefully, they'll just put that pathetic store out to the proverbial pasture.
  • Post #18 - October 6th, 2007, 1:09 am
    Post #18 - October 6th, 2007, 1:09 am Post #18 - October 6th, 2007, 1:09 am
    Jonah wrote:Basically, I see all these complaints as arising from the notion that Whole Foods, while it is a very large corporation, is somehow supposed to act like a small, locally-owned health food store.


    Jonah, we'd be in total 100% agreement if it weren't for the fact that that expectation is one that they have created. It wasn't thrust upon them. They very carefully cultivate the image that they're the folksy folks who are in touch with the earth and their fellow man and are ethically superior to their competitors, who are clearly languishing in the stone age. It's not their business practices that cause people to single them out. It's the degree of contrast between their business practices and their corporate persona. No, Whole Foods is not significantly different from any other large grocery chain -- it's just the chain that brings the word "sanctimonious" to mind.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #19 - October 6th, 2007, 1:27 am
    Post #19 - October 6th, 2007, 1:27 am Post #19 - October 6th, 2007, 1:27 am
    Dmnkly wrote:Jonah, we'd be in total 100% agreement if it weren't for the fact that that expectation is one that they have created. It wasn't thrust upon them. They very carefully cultivate the image that they're the folksy folks who are in touch with the earth and their fellow man and are ethically superior to their competitors, who are clearly languishing in the stone age. It's not their business practices that cause people to single them out. It's the degree of contrast between their business practices and their corporate persona. No, Whole Foods is not significantly different from any other large grocery chain -- it's just the chain that brings the word "sanctimonious" to mind.


    excellently stated - couldn't agree more
  • Post #20 - October 6th, 2007, 8:03 am
    Post #20 - October 6th, 2007, 8:03 am Post #20 - October 6th, 2007, 8:03 am
    No, Whole Foods is not significantly different from any other large grocery chain -- it's just the chain that brings the word "sanctimonious" to mind.


    Not to mention, apparently, "Anti-Christ."

    It just doesn't have the same ring to say "Behold, the Anti-Christ: Piggly Wiggly."

    Or "and the Moo shall lie down with the Oink..."
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  • Post #21 - October 6th, 2007, 9:29 am
    Post #21 - October 6th, 2007, 9:29 am Post #21 - October 6th, 2007, 9:29 am
    I am not a fan of Whole Foods at all.

    Over priced, and probably not marketed to a person like me. It seems like they have alot of organic, and prepared foods which i do not care for. Their meats are expensive, and nowhere near as good as I get from my local family owned butcher shop I go to. Their produce is impressive, but no better than I can get at Caputos. The only time I go to Whole Foods is if I need some fresh avocados, and I am pasing by. Other than that Whole Foods isnt even on my shopping radar.
  • Post #22 - October 6th, 2007, 9:52 am
    Post #22 - October 6th, 2007, 9:52 am Post #22 - October 6th, 2007, 9:52 am
    Jonah wrote:Basically, I see all these complaints as arising from the notion that Whole Foods, while it is a very large corporation, is somehow supposed to act like a small, locally-owned health food store. Whole Foods is a very large corporation and doesn't pretend to be anything else. The fact that some of its employees provide less than courteous service is to be expected.

    I'm with you all the way up to, but not including, the last sentence of the above quote. I don't think less than courteous service is ever "to be expected." I certainly don't expect rudeness from the Jewel--and I never get it--so I don't see why I should expect it from Whole Foods.

    I have never had the infuriating sort of experience at WF that Daisy had at their meat counter (though, reading it, I wanted to punch that meat guy in the face on her behalf), but I did have a transaction with an exceptionally stupid young lady behind the prepared foods counter once. I wanted a third of a pound of something, and she didn't know how to do this, because she didn't know that .33 on the scale was the equivalent of a third. I guess her decimal/fraction education stopped at quarters and halves. You wouldn't believe how difficult it was for me to explain the concept to her; and then she made it into my problem, as if I were the one at fault for asking for something so crazy and off-the-charts as "a third." I actually began to wonder if I was having some kind of nightmare. And, ironically enough, for all of Whole Foods' cachet, I can't imagine finding similar incompetence at the Jewel--which is also part of a "very large corporation."
  • Post #23 - October 6th, 2007, 11:26 am
    Post #23 - October 6th, 2007, 11:26 am Post #23 - October 6th, 2007, 11:26 am
    I can't imagine finding similar incompetence at the Jewel--which is also part of a "very large corporation."


    I can. I had the same experience at Dominick's years ago-- having to explain how to make 6/10ths of a pound on a digital scale. She stared at me like I had just recounted the defeat of the Gauls under Vercingetorix by Caesar at Alesia.

    That said, I've mostly had very good service in recent years at the Ashland WF. More or less knowledgable, but overall, courteous and not attitudey.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
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  • Post #24 - October 6th, 2007, 11:40 am
    Post #24 - October 6th, 2007, 11:40 am Post #24 - October 6th, 2007, 11:40 am
    Mike G wrote:That said, I've mostly had very good service in recent years at the Ashland WF. More or less knowledgable, but overall, courteous and not attitudey.

    In fairness, the Ashland WF is also my WF, and I would say the same by and large. The stupid-beyond-words girl behind the prepared foods counter was an exception.

    I take your point that incompetent service can happen elsewhere (since it happened to you at Dominick's), but it does seem to me that when it happens at WF, the reason is that WF doesn't place as high a premium on training as it places on "coolness," "mellowness," and "appearance of heart being in the right place." That's a subjective impression, of course, and the fact that I have that impression is the chickens-coming-home-to-roost of the persona that WF tries to project. Whatever the reasons, in the case of this cute perky young lady in prepared foods, WF clearly used different hiring criteria than competence. And never bothered to ask her if she knew decimals before putting her in charge of a scale that weighs in decimals. This creates an impression that Whole Foods' "values" are elsewhere.
  • Post #25 - October 6th, 2007, 4:17 pm
    Post #25 - October 6th, 2007, 4:17 pm Post #25 - October 6th, 2007, 4:17 pm
    I do tend to find that Whole Foods is much more expensive than other comparable stores for many items. Earlier comments that they are just too pricey applies to me, too. When faced with the options of paying $2 for a loaf of bread down at Jewel/Dominick's/Cub Foods/etc. or $4 at WF, the choice is fairly clear. On the other hand, they do stock certain things I find hard to get elsewhere, such as their excellent produce selection. But then I'm reminded too we have a Michael's Fresh Market at Ogden and Rt 59 not so far from where I am in Naperville, which has just as many fresh fruits and vegetables at very low prices.

    It's easy to get sucked into the philosophy you are purchasing healthier food from WF -- which I don't disagree may be true in some respects, but not all. Being from the West Coast where the organic movement was very well ensconced for years, a lot of the marketing sort of washed over my head and didn't make too much of an impression. Any company is going to advertise their niche, though, in order to draw customers. It's just part of a movement that many people embrace for their different reasons, but getting condescending about it is really a bother.
  • Post #26 - October 6th, 2007, 9:12 pm
    Post #26 - October 6th, 2007, 9:12 pm Post #26 - October 6th, 2007, 9:12 pm
    Lilya wrote:I do tend to find that Whole Foods is much more expensive than other comparable stores for many items. Earlier comments that they are just too pricey applies to me, too.


    I honestly find the opposite. Comparable is the key word - if I compare LaCroix sparkling water, for example, it's almost a dollar less expensice at WF than at Dom or Jewel. Since I don't have a car, I shop at one of these three as there are the only ones within walking distance. I won't compare TJs because they have limited items. Costco is the only place the universally has lower prices on the organic items they carry. . .but, they carry very few, so again, you can't compare.

    We can't compare meat or poultry, because neither of the other large chains around carry meat that wasn't injected with antibiotics. I'm not debating over whether the antibiotics are a problem or not, simply that you can't compare.

    So, that leaves only a few items that the other chain stores have that WF also has; in at least 90% of those cases, WF costs less. Eggs? Less. Gluten-free cereal? Less and a larger variety. Canned goods? Again, less and a larger selection. Produce? About the same, even if you compare to Stanley's tiny selection.

    I often get canned goods that are not labelled organic for less than I would pay at Jewel. My MIL always gives me a hard time for shopping there - yet I recently got her favorite brand of tomatoes (for making red sauce) for less than she normally pays at Jewel.
  • Post #27 - October 7th, 2007, 12:51 pm
    Post #27 - October 7th, 2007, 12:51 pm Post #27 - October 7th, 2007, 12:51 pm
    I'm with you, ViewsAskew. Whole Foods is expensive, but for many comparable items, it's actually significantly less than elsewhere. Fish is a good example. Very good quality swordfish and tuna steaks at Whole Foods are $18.99 and $21.99 per pound, respectively. That's pricey, but tt Fox and Obel they're $21.99 and $23.99. At Dirk's Fish Market: $18.99 and $23.99.

    Alcoholic beverages too. Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco at Whole Foods: $10.99. At Sam's: 11.99. In general, I find WF wine and good beer prices to be just a bit lower than elsewhere.

    And it really isn't all about profit at Whole Foods, though that's certainly a huge motivating factor. For years, Whole Foods was my go to source for Prosciutto di Parma, something you'll never find at the local Jewel. It's a high price, high profit margin item with significant demand among WF cutstomer types. Recently, however, they stopped carrying it because they couldn't find proof that the prosciutto had not been treated with hormones. That decision affected me negatively, and I wish they'd go back to carrying it. While WF's principles are not my principles, I do respect that they will stick to them even at some cost to the bottom line.
  • Post #28 - October 7th, 2007, 1:57 pm
    Post #28 - October 7th, 2007, 1:57 pm Post #28 - October 7th, 2007, 1:57 pm
    So, they have a angry ex-supplier and now they're the anti-christ? Find me one big company that doesn't.

    Holier-than-thou? Sanctimonious? Maybe I'm thick-skined, but I don't see it. It's a grocery store, people. Lighten up, buy your food, and get out.

    Over-priced? On some items (bakery and produce for sure) but on others they're reasonable and still others they're downright cheap.

    My experience at WF goes something like this: (I buy things occasionally at the Peterson-Cicero location)

    -I skip past produce almost always and head for seafood, my normal purpose for being in a WF. There's always a huge selection of frozen shrimp, high quality, at a very reasonable price. The fishmongers (who are there past 5pm, which is more than I can say for others in town) are always patient and helpful, willing to make sure whole fish are properly cleaned and scaled for me.

    -I usually buy Phil's eggs which are usually the same price, and sometimes cheaper, than Lincolnwood Produce (where I do most of my shopping these days).

    -I also like to take a look at the selection of imported dried pastas, which is among the best selections for a non-Italian grocer. Priced not too much above what I've seen elsewhere.

    -I always stop at the cheese counter which is staffed by helpful, knowledgeable people. It's surprisingly well-stocked and, again, reasonably priced.

    -Finally, I love their roast turkey at the deli. Again, helpful, patient people there.

    Maybe it sounds like I'm doing a commercial for this place, but I've never run into a problem or felt put-down by WF. I buy a lot of good stuff there, everyone who needs to be helpful is, and I'm pretty happy the store is nearby.

    On the decimal issue: I take my grandmother grocery shopping a few times a month, and we rotate between a variety of stores from Marketplace to Lincolnwood Produce to Happy Foods to multiple Jewels and Domnick's. She always wants 1/3 of a pound of turkey. I have run into the exact same problem described at EVERY SINGLE store we've ever shopped in, no exaggeration.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #29 - October 7th, 2007, 2:01 pm
    Post #29 - October 7th, 2007, 2:01 pm Post #29 - October 7th, 2007, 2:01 pm
    One more thing I forgot. Whole Foods makes an effort to carry products from small, local companies. Often times, a rep from one of these companies will be handing out samples in the store. I've talked to a few of these people, including a guy from Papa Lena's (great beet chips!) and they're usually thrilled that WF not only carries their products but lets them stand front-and-center in the store and promote it.

    I've gotta be honest, this is not something I see with with regularity in any other stores like Jewel.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #30 - October 7th, 2007, 3:14 pm
    Post #30 - October 7th, 2007, 3:14 pm Post #30 - October 7th, 2007, 3:14 pm
    Michael,

    Perhaps you've just been fortunate enough to avoid the nasty scenarios, or perhaps some of us have gotten an unusual number of them. But I can think of at least two occasions when I've asked about an item only to get a snide and direct "Why would you want that?" type of response, not to mention a number of times I felt I was being treated in a less obviously condescending manner. Rude or disinterested service I'm used to, and very few places are immune. But condescending service, even if it's no better or worse, I find particularly galling on a personal level, and have had more such experiences at Whole Foods than any other establishment I can think of. It may just be bad luck, but I really believe it's a matter of corporate culture. I didn't always feel this way. I was, at one time, an unabashed supporter. But I've been soured by too many bad experiences over the years, and while I still shop there, I do so with my guard up. Perhaps this is a personal fault, but I assure you that it isn't a knee-jerk response.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com

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