Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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The cheaper version of Whole Foods

July 31, 2015

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Whole Foods wants to be cool. And it also wants a younger customer base.

So, the upscale grocery store chain is going downscale — sort of. Whole Foods announced the first five cities that will get its new “365 By Whole Foods Market” stores, which are aimed at millennial shoppers.

The cities, according to Marketplace, are:

  • The Silver Lake neighborhood in Los Angeles (an existing store will be converted)
  • Bellevue, Washington
  • Houston
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Santa Monica, Calif.

The 365 stores are not to be confused with the smaller, urban stores that Whole Foods has opened in cities like New York, Detroit and Chicago, although their footprint will be similar.

A typical suburban Whole Foods is about 48,000 square feet, while a 365 store will be about 30,000 square feet.

The new chain will have lower prices, cost less to run and be “hip, cool, and tech-oriented,” co-founder and co-Chief Executive John Mackey said, according to this  Wall Street Journal article.

Whole Foods is wrestling with allegations that it overcharged customers in New York City, and its general reputation for high prices that earned it the nickname “Whole Paycheck.” Since millennials are often cash-strapped, they’re less likely to be regular shoppers at Whole Foods.

There are 424 Whole Foods now in North America and elsewhere, and the company expects to cross 500 stores before long.

For story ideas, talk to shoppers at your local Whole Foods stores to see whether they’d prefer the smaller stores. If you’re in a city that’s getting a 365 store, ask how it will be different from a conventional Whole Foods. How do your local grocers feel about Whole Foods?

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