Sun 11.09.08 – For various reasons, my local Whole Foods market is the worst store in the chain in SoCal, I won’t go into all of it, but let’s just say 2 things on the matter : stock & employee morale. It is not fun to shop at a market where one gets guff from the checkers & baggers about one’s purchase choice and general bad attitude. On the stock issue, even before it switched from Wild Oats to Whole Foods, it has been hard to convince this local (was Wild Oats, now) Whole Foods to carry items that would be of interest to folks with multiple food allergies. Thanks for the gluten-free bread you carry, but Glutino is corn & yeast full, how about carrying a lot more of the gluten-free, yeast-free rice bread that sells out very quickly, obviously I am NOT the only customer who buys it*.
Thus due to the idiocy of the local Whole Foods employees and purchasing/stock management, I find myself driving at least 2 times a month to south Huntington Beach to the Mother’s Market to purchase a much wider and deeper range of gluten-free, yeast-free, dairy-free, egg-free, canola-evil-oil-free, and corn-free items. My local Whole Foods is less than a mile away, the closest Mother’s Market has been over 30 minutes away.
No longer, the genius’ at Mother’s have decided to do battle against the corporate bloat that Whole Foods has become and they have opened a branch in Santa Ana, that is technically farther away from me but is actually much easier to get to due to easy freeway access. All hail the nice Mother’s Market folk.
Now, our family of food allergy sufferers has been frequenting the original Mother’s Market health food store mothership in Costa Mesa since the early 1980s when we were first diagnosed. I am over the top excited that Mother’s is expanding and is now in a lovely big store in Santa Ana, just across the street from the Westfield Main Place Mall on Main St, just north of the 5 fwy and just south of the 22. Great location, big wide aisles (all the other MM stores have very crunched aisles due to trying to fit as much stock as possible into a small store), and a great selection that far outstrips the average Whole Foods in the variety department.
Whole Foods only real distinctives over Mother’s has been their butcher & fresh meat, wine department, and multiple locations. This new Mother’s is the first store that has a good selection of packaged meats and not just frozen meats. Yes, there is no wine, but I can go to BevMo. What Mother’s lacks in meat & wine, they more than make up for in vegan, raw, allergy-free, and just plain selection of multiple brands of local or health food over the ever increasing corporate organic banality that is Whole Foods.
Here is an example of what I am talking about, beyond gluten-free bread choice: My local Whole Foods only carries one brand of Japanese styled nori and seaweed products, only one brand. The BIG problem with that one brand is that it is grown & produced/made in China. HELLO! HELLO! HELLO! Wake up Whole Foods! I don’t care what you say, you need, if you want to retain your indy/organic/wholefood reputation to provide a non-Chinese grown/made brand. I don’t care if you have had an organic certification on the brand, HELLO! China is poisoning its own children in the name of profit.
Whole Foods did you test the nori and the water that it is grown in to make sure it is pollution free? HELLO! Now Mother’s Market, even in their tiny-ish, cramped Huntington Beach store, has a selection of 4 Nori brands of which 1 is made in Japan and 1 in Canada. Whole Foods in a huge store only offers one brand made in a country which is terribly polluted and has crooked producers that add plastic additives to extend food. Nice, how marvelously whole food of them.
I want more than a label that says “Organic”, I want to see that the company and the individual stores are putting thought into their purchasing decisions. It has become more and more obvious that Whole Foods is buying in bulk at the corporate level and not thinking about why they started the Whole Foods stores for in the late 1960s/early 1970s in Austin for in the first place. Additionally, I would like to go to my local Whole Foods and think that the employee type folks I interact with care enough to remember what customers want and do more than mock me, yes I have been mocked for my purchases more than once, when I get to the check out counter.
Dear Whole Foods, get your act together. Remember your roots. Do something about employee morale and attitude, while you are at it, please train your lovely college-aged employees on why insulting customers is bad and why folks would want to shop at your store.
Dear Mother’s Market, thanks for staying independent and expanding into Santa Ana. Thanks for still hiring dreadlocked, tattoo’d vegan kids** rather than well-scrubbed college kids, cause vegan kids understand odd diets and don’t mock. You rock.
div class=”note”* The obnoxious, bad attitude employees always say to me when I inquire, “It just sells so fast.” Me, “Why not carry more of it then if it is so popular?” WF employee, (brain explodes), “ahhhh…. Well, you should check back next week.” Idiot. How to sell groceries in an upscale, speciality store & keep your job => keep popular items in stock. And furthermore, be nice to the customer who is merely making a request.
** Much like you can tell a good restaurant by who works there, a good health food store should always have an employee ratio of 60% vegan/hippy/punk/crusties/tattoo’d folk over straight/clean/oblivious folk. The local Whole Foods when it was Wild Oats had a good ratio, but with the advent of the Whole Foods takeover, the vegan/raw/hippy/crusties have fled leaving cranky CSULB students as employees. Damn folks, its Long Beach, y’all should be able to find a vegan, LGBT, crusty somewhere in town… And the fact that you can’t only puts the final nail into your corporate coffin. Or at least demonstrates the incompetence of the store manager***.
*** Who by the way has the worst attitude of all the employees at the Long Beach Whole Foods.