Friday, July 07, 2006

Holy Cow, Whole Foods!

whole foods market
I'm a lover of Whole Foods Market. I frequent the one at Union Square. Last year, I started eating at the Whole Foods buffet almost everyday, and even started splurging on 1oz shots of wheatgrass for $2.89 (or whatever the exact price was). I lost weight doing it, since the food was so...honest.

The buffet was $5.99/lb, the same price as Emma's Dilemma, a shady deli across the street from my work. I stopped going to this deli, figuring if I was going to pay NYC deli prices, I might as well get good food at Whole Foods! At least, I think the price was $5.99. Then it was $6.99 for sure. That's when I started paying attention. My lunches stayed between $7-$8 bucks, $9 being almost a splurge, and $10 being downright gluttonous.

We all know that our Whole Foods hit their $1million in sales for one week many months ago. My co-worker saw the memo lying on the customer service's desk. She wishes she camera phoned it, but she was too hungry to think. There's nothing wrong with making crazy profits, but I'm noticing Whole Foods doing it more and more. Like when they cut up their unsold Easter cakes, put them in individual plastic containers, and sold them in the dessert section for $2.99. The entire cake was about $11 (I know, I bought one for a friend). As an experiment, and as a tribute to someone's bright idea to recycle prepared food, I bought the $2.99 slice of cake, and yes, it was stale.

In case you haven't noticed, the price of the buffet is now $7.99/lb. This is the highest it's ever been. I'm not sure what the price is at other Whole Foods, but this is too high. I can't find an area to place a complaint on Whole Foods site, but I want them to know that this price increase is not ok. It means that if I go to lunch there, I won't be buying a drink. I won't be buying a spontaneous vitamin, magazine or baby bottle cozie, the profit margins on which I'm guessing are quite generous.

I've stopped going to Whole Foods as much. I've started bringing my lunch again to work, and frequent the local Subway every now and then. Whole Foods aint the cats pajamas so much that I'll pay a rising per pound cost for no reason. But, I want to go back to Whole Foods. I want to go back to loving them totally.

So, if you think Whole Foods buffet pricing is not justified, please comment on this post. It will be like a petition. The goal is to get the price per pound back down to $6.99/lb. Most importantly, show your feeling by not going to Whole Foods as much (as painful as this is). If you do not support the price increase of the buffet, then don't buy from it. It's the only way to make a difference. That and a ton of people ranting on a blog. Please forward this to your friends. Here's the link:

My submitted comment:
I noticed that your buffet price went up to $7.99/lb from $6.99/lb at the Union Square location. Why the price jump? The food that you offer is the same, and prices elsewhere around the prepared food sections seem to be similar, unless you plan on raising those, too.

This increase is most unfortunate, and everyone I point it out to is not pleased. I have stopped shopping at your store on an almost daily basis, because my lunch budget cannot sustain the increase. Subway is happy to take my business, and your price increase has encouraged me to bring my own lunch again. If you lower it back to $6.99/lb, I will stop complaining and happily return. Getting people like me into the store via the buffet is great, because I usually buy point of purchase things at checkout. I don't grocery shop at Whole Foods. But I do buy random things while in there for lunch.

Thank you,
KH (aka FashionMista)

PS: while looking for a complaint box online, I came across this message on the Whole Foods Customer Service:

"While you may email your local store through any of our FAQ pages, please remember that our team is working throughout the store (not at computers) and emails may not be answered immediately."

That makes me even more mad. Any decent person knows that to run a big company, you need workers in the field, and workers behind the desk. Admin makes the world go round, and Customer Service is not a light matter. Give it up, Whole Foods. We know you're not a fricken co-op. Although with these asinine statements, I might as well go join one.

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bkln said...

Yeah, they have sold their souls to the devil. I remember when it was a stinky healthfood shop in soho...alas.

queenie said...

Hey lady....

Well...I feel your pain regarding Whole Foods.
When Whole Foods opened up in Pittsburgh at the end of my junior year in dental school, I was thrilled and ecstatic that there was finally something better, organic, and healthy in the neighborhood. I used to only shop there.

Then I move to Manhattan, where Whole Foods is a staple....and there is one in my backyard, but the prices are so inflated due to it being NYC....and that shit pissed me off! Why does the same produce cost more just because it is NYC????

So I kinda boycotted it myself for a while, I wouldn't support them and go there for lunch, etc. I started shopping at Fairway. But even that gets so hard, to carry my groceries that far....especially in the winter, just to save $15 bucks or whatever.

So I started to slowly give in again, and now I remain pissed.....but I have given up!

But I just wanted you to know I feel your pain girlfriend!

tiff said...

hey fashiomista Katie,
I am sorry about the whole foods thing, I am sure you are right though. crazy!

and what I'm pissed about is all the new STOP LIGHT CAMERAS that are now on chester and all over cleveland, supposedly to help stop people from running red lights.

Instead of charging $200.00 a ticket why don't they repair all the pot holes and focus on bringing the neighborhood back from the dumps.

go figure.

happy weekend!!!!!!!

Mista said...

I know, I HATE those light cameras. The only thing that then mayor Jane Camble ever did.

I just remember driving home from the Flats in downtown Cleveland late at night, a bunch of girls in car, and going through the deserted red lights just to get home safely. My dad got a ticket for accellorating too quickly at the start of a green light. So backwards. The picture showed him calmly stopped at the red light, and a second picture showed him going through the greenlight at a normal looking speed. No screech marks, just calmy driving. So stupid.

Mr. Food Markets said...

Intriguing post - I'll be curious to see what happens with your campaign! The hot buffet was $7.99 / lb. up here in Framingham from the time it was installed, while the salad bar stayed at $6.99. But then the salad bar went to $7.99 also, early this year I believe. I'm not so sure WFM intends to compete for Subway's lunch crowd -- they don't make sandwiches to order for one thing. But it will be interesting to see how they continue to market their very upscale prepared foods section when clearly it is priced prohibitively for many shoppers.

stephanie said...

i am katie's lunch partner and i am the one who saw a memo lying on the customer service desk congratulating the union square whole foods for grossing a million dollars in one week (or something like that.) they are making insane profits. if they were struggling to stay in business i might not have such a problem with the price increase but this is just being greedy. and why a whole dollar? why not raise it by ten cents per pound? are they making up for "shrinkage" due to people helping themselves to a buffet extravaganza and taking it right upstairs without paying? if so, maybe they should have a better monitoring system instead of the half-assed security guard who absentmindedly scribbles on your receipt once out of every 10 times you take your food upstairs.

Mista said...

Well said, Stephanie! I too wondered if they were losing money on the nibblers at the buffet or by those thieves, but the rest of us should not need to make up for it. That's what the government does. Free money should not come from the private sector. At least not in such a blatant way.

As for Mr. Food Market's comment on Whole Foods competing Subway's lunch crowd: yes, I agree completely that the A) clientele are different and B) Subway is not prepared foods. With regards to A: Money is money. Subway and Whole Foods at Union Square are in areas with a LOT of foot traffic. At 2pm, people are hungry. With regards to B: No, Subway does not offer prepared foods (except for chips and cookies...yum!). I don't buy the prepared foods at Whole Foods. I serve myself, or have a Whole Foods worker scoop macaroni and cheese and fried chicken onto my plate. If I were to buy prepared foods for my work lunch, I'd buy from Trader Joe's b/c they are cheaper and still good.

Bottom line: both stores are in highly trafficked areas, and both serve lunch. I don't like to spend more than $8 on a lunch if I'm not going to a sit down. Maintaining that budget is impossible now that the buffet is $7.99. Today I bought a half-inch turkey sub with fresh green peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayo, and a chocolate chip cookie. It totaled about $4.69 give or take a few cents. I got an over priced orange from Emma's (the shady deli) for $.89 that has more flavor to it than a recent Whole Foods orange.

And that's my bottom line. Oh, and the fact that my past 2 blueberry purchases from Whole Foods have lacked greatly in taste.