Whole Foods, which just turned 25, has only 168 stores but has the industry’s full attention. A typical supermarket sells south of $400 per square foot; a Whole Foods exceeds $800. Sales at the average market grew about 1% last year; the typical Whole Foods posted a nearly 15% jump. The results “speak for themselves,” says Mackey, who expects Whole Foods’ revenue to mushroom to $10 billion in 2010 from $3.9 billion in 2004.
Supermarket experts say Whole Foods has raised the bar for the industry. “You can’t just be a purveyor of meal ingredients anymore,” says David Merrefield, editorial director at Supermarket News. “Whole Foods brings excitement to an industry that needs it.”
Count me as a fan of Whole Foods, for a variety of reasons. Selection, quality, their basic philosophy surrounding what they sell, how they treat their employees: all are solid reasons for frequenting their stores, and they do these things better than many, many other chain supermarkets. But one of the primary reasons I go is due to their corporate transparency. They don’t hide their politics…Their website tells their take on many important food issues. Let’s see Safeway compare against that.
My only complaint? It’s very crowded (which is a testament to its popularity). But soon Seattle is going to have its third Whole Foods, almost down the street from where I currently live. Hopefully that’ll help.
UPDATE: Derrick noted in the comments that Whole Foods does have a problem with Unions. A quick glance of google confirms this. Something to bear in mind…I’ll re-visit this later.