June 24, 2007

Whole Foods New Business Paradigm

Whole Foods opened a London mega store two weeks ago in South Kensington, just a 20 minute walk from our flat. The place is HUGE and some have said soulless, although with all the customers packed in it is quite soul-full. Stephen compares the experience to his first US visit to Ikea. People stare open mouthed at all the products.
Bulk foods seems to be a new phenomenon requiring a black board with instructions. Some differences to the US Whole Foods - an egg section, unrefrigerated, that includes quail and ostridge eggs, a muesli bar and an entire cheese room.

I've been there twice and will classify the experience as a food field trip. Stephen and I went to compare it to the US stores - filled with Americans. The second visit was with my friend Shelley who, like me, has some food choice "issues" meaning that it is a real challenge eating out with us.

Both times I arrived at the end of my shopping to face the world's longest check out line. With just a few items in my hands I've wondered if I should just plop them down and walk away. In fact, the lines are speedy. Today's New York Times has an article about Whole Foods mastery of the check out line. Apparently one long line moves more quickly then having many short lines in front of each checkout.

Here's an interesting blog posting and illustration about the Whole Foods New Business Paradigm (scroll down interview post). Mission, vision and core values are more important than making money.