What started out as a small natural food store, Whole Foods Market has grown into one of the biggest organic grocery stores in the world. While the need and want to live a healthier lifestyle grows more and more, so does Whole Foods’ power, as well as their prices. While Whole Foods has become a truly worldwide brand, what do we actually know about them? To help answer all the questions you may have about this healthy grocery store, here are the Top 10 Untold Truths Of Whole Foods Market.
10. There Are Special ‘Hacks’ For A Better Shopping Experience
Whenever most people think of Whole Foods, they think of two things; organic health food and crazy expensive prices. While this may be true, there are ways in which you can enjoy Whole Food products without breaking the bank. Even avid shoppers at Whole Foods might want to use a few of these tips. A good way to save a buck or two if you buy a lot of a certain item is to buy in bulk. If you are one of those people that knows what they like and are always buying the same item, then buying in bulk could save you up to 20 percent, depending on which location it is. And that can include wine. When it comes to things like cheese, another good way to save a little is to have them cut it for you. Rather than buying a pre-packed chunk of cheese, get the employee at the cheese counter to cut exactly the amount you want. It’s cheaper and there will be no waste. That also works for produce, as well as meats and fish. If you want to avoid the rush and ensure that you are still getting the freshest products, the best time to shop at WholeFoods is in the morning. That way you’ll get the best foods and also get ahead start on any deals of the day.
9. An Employee’s Health Effects Their Discount
We now live in an age where health concerns are a big factor in our lives. With more people switching to a healthier lifestyle and cutting out the bad things, places like Whole Foods have become a beacon for our new lifestyles. Not just happy with giving the general public a healthy option, Whole Foods wants its staff to be healthy too. In an effort to whip their staff into shape, Whole Foods actually arrange their store discounts on a sliding scale depending on their health. While all employees are entitled to a 20 percent discount, that could increase if you live a healthy lifestyle. If you are a nonsmoker, your cholesterol is within a certain range and your blood pressure and BMI are in check then the employees could earn a 30 percent store discount. Other perks for working at Whole Foods include an employee of the month. While a lot of companies have this scheme, they don’t have it quite like Whole Foods. Each month a ‘king’ and ‘queen’ of customer service are named and as well as a fancy title, the ‘kings and queens’ get to shop till they drop. The winners have two minutes to run around the store and grab as many items as they want. Whatever they have at the end of the two minutes, they get to keep. A lot of the employees usually end up with a cart full of tasty food. That’s a pretty good perk.
8. Whole Foods And Amazon
It may be surprising to know that not too long ago, Whole Foods was struggling. While it very quickly became one of the biggest grocery store chains in the country, the biggest in health and organic food, a few years ago Whole Foods was in trouble. That is until one of the biggest companies in the world came along and helped it out. While a lot of people thought Amazon buying Whole Foods was a bit of a strange partnership, the internet giants knew exactly what they were doing. While Amazon has started to venture out into the real world with their Amazon Go stores, Whole Foods gave Amazon a real taste of a ‘bricks and mortar’ company. Since the Amazon buy out, Whole Foods has seen quite a few changes with their brand. Not only has Amazon giving them a much-needed boost but the stores themselves are seeing quite a few changes. Merging Whole Foods with Amazon Prime was the first big change as Whole Foods now offers special sales for Prime Members as well as selling Amazons popular devices such as the Echo in stores as well as offering free delivery for Prime members. Also, Amazon has put its delivery lockers in many Whole Food stores so that you can have your parcel delivered safely and collect it from Whole Foods at your convenience. ith more changes on the horizon, the future is looking bright for this partnership.
7. They Support Farmers
While Whole Foods has become a big international company, they still focus a lot of their time and money on the local aspect. As much as they have a great range of food, Whole Foods are still passionate about buying and sourcing fresh foods and ingredients from local farmers and companies. This in itself helps the local economy as well as keeping local farms and ranches in business. It also is a big step for sustainable foods and products. Not just content with buying a lot of food from local suppliers, Whole Foods also offers loans and financial help to local farmers. These loans are low interest and designed to help local farmers that may need a little boast with their business. Helping out the little guy and keeping things local, is a great personal approach to food, especially for such a big company. Not only are Whole Foods content with helping out local farmers, but they also want to help out the planet too. In recent years Whole Foods bought the largest wind energy credits in North America. In fact, they bought so many that they offset all of the electricity used in the US and Canadian stores. With all those noble causes, it’s no wonder that they sometimes charge higher prices for their products.
6. The Creators Showered with A Dishwasher
Whole Foods may well be on its way to becoming a true world brand, but things started out very differently for them and it was almost completely destroyed. Back in the late 1970s, John Mackey and Renee Lawson opened up their first organic grocery store in Austin, Texas. Wanting to provide good, healthy food to the people of Austin, Mackey and Lawson went all out to make this happen and that included living in their first store. Only being able to get a house that was zoned for commercial use, Mackey and Renne used the first floor to sell their products, the second floor for a cafe and they lived on the third floor. As this was a property zoned for business and not for residential use, there were no basic facilities such as showers or baths. Because of that, the two co-founded had to improvise and use the dishwasher hose every time they wanted to wash. As the store started to become popular, Mackey and Lawson merged with another grocery store and officially became Whole Foods. However, while that should have been a joyous occasion, a year after opening the store got hit with the worst flood in the history of Austin. While the store looked to be finished for good, it was actually the local residents that came to Whole Foods rescue. As Whole Foods had already built quite a fanbase of loyal customers, those customers got involved and helped clean the store and within a month, Whole Foods was back and open for business.
5. The CEO Makes $1 Per Year
While most people would think that the main goal of creating a successful company and brand is to make money, Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey might disagree with you. Obviously, making money is one of the, if not the most important, aspect of any business, but Mackey feels that he has made enough money in his life and therefore wants to work for the joy of working. Mackey has made quite a few controversial and surprising stances in his career but one of the big stances was to forgo a salary. Not only does Mackey not get a big salary but he also doesn’t get any bonuses or even have any stock options either. Having a boss that only comes into the office because he wants to is one big reason why Whole Foods is so often ranked as one of the best employers to work for. In fact, the company has such a good reputation for having happy staff that it always makes the top 100 ‘best companies to work for’ in Forbes magazine and it has done so every single year since the magazine has existed. As well as the staff perks that we have already mentioned on our list of facts about Whole Foods, the store also operates an open policy when it comes to salaries. That means that anyone can know the salary of anyone. From the top of the company to the bottom, the wages are an open book. Having no secrets between staff seems to go a long way wor work-related happiness.
4. English Only!
While there are many plus points to working for Whole Foods, we didn’t even mention that they pay higher than most grocery stores or equivalent companies. However, they do have their bad sides when it comes to employee relations. One big issue that Whole Foods had was an ‘English only’ policy for staff. The policy stated that members of staff must communicate in English when they are in the presence of a customer as well as with each other if they are on the clock or discussing work-related topics. This policy came to light when two workers in a New Mexico store, complained about it. The workers were suspended for ‘unacceptable workplace behavior.’ Whole Foods did make a statement and said that their suspension had nothing to do with them not speaking English, but many felt that the timing was a huge coincidence, as well as the English only policy be revised fairly quickly after the incident. Whole Foods has also hit the headlines with an overcharging scandal, in which they have admitted to overestimating and expatriating prices and weights of certain products. No wonder they became known as ‘Whole Paycheck.’ It also might be interesting to know that Whole Foods actually sold cheese that was milk by prisoners. Cheesemakers Haystack Mountain had an agreement with the Colorado Corrections Institute in with prisoners were milking goats for cheese for a monthly salary of around $300 – $400. The cheese was then sold in places like Whole Foods. Whole Foods has come out recently and said that it would stop buying products made by prison labor. It just goes to show that even companies that come from a good social place, can make mistakes and missteps.
While there are many great things about organic food store Whole Foods, one of the downsides that most people have with them is their prices. While Whole Foods do a lot of good things; support local farmers, bring us great and sustainable produce, etc their pricing can sometimes be so high that people can’t actually afford to shop there. In order to overcome this problem and make Whole Foods more accessible for everyone, Whole Foods decided to expand their brand and add 365 stores to their range. The idea of the 365 stores was to bring cheaper products while appealing to the ‘millennial’ and younger demographic. The stores were to be slightly smaller than a regular Whole Foods store and according to CEO John Mackey, the 365 brand was the future of Whole Foods. However, while the intention may well have been good, the 365 stores didn’t really happen. With a big plan to bring stores everywhere, only a few actually opened up. Once Amazon bought Whole Foods, the plan for 365 stores were halted. It is reported that the 365 stores that did open up will remain open, but no other stores are planned. Although the idea may have been a good one, it was all a bit of a mess and misstep for Whole Foods.
2. ‘Walking Around’ Beer While You Shop
We know that grocery shopping can be a chore sometimes. You have a long list of things to get and worse still, the store is packed with people. Isn’t there any way to make grocery shopping more tolerable? Actually, Whole Foods thinks there is and that is to shop with a nice cold beer. A Whole Foods store in Austin has a full liquor license which means you can drink while you shop. Not only does that particular Whole Foods have two bars, one of which is a wine bar, but they also have buckets of beer placed around the store so you can grab a can and shop at your leisure. While shopping with a beer sounds like a great idea, it doesn’t totally fit in with Whole Foods’ image of being super health-conscious. So it may not be too surprising to know that in a Whole Foods store, yes, in Dallas again, they actually used to sell cigarettes. Admittedly this was back in the 1980s but even so, to have Whole Foods selling possibly the unhealthy product around is quite a head-scratcher. While the sells of this item were supposedly quite good, the item was pulled from this store as they didn’t think it was quite a ‘Whole Foods’ product.
1. The Biggest Whole Foods Is In…
With many Whole Foods stores popping up all over the country, as well as parts of the world, it’s biggest store is in Austin, Texas. It not really surprising as this is Whole Foods flagship store as well as being the headquarters for the entire company. The store itself is over 80,000 square feet and as well as offering perks like bars and the ‘walk around beer,’ Whole Foods flagship store also has a gelato bar and a chocolatier stand. Not only that but there is an ice skating rink on the roof for anyone that wishes to have a little fun before they shop. While Whole Foods headquarters and flagship store may well be the biggest, their New Your branch actually has something special about it too as it’s the biggest grocery store of any kind in the entire city. A few years ago two men actually robbed the New York Whole Foods and made it out with over $60,000. That should keep them in organic food and gluten-free bread for a day or two!