Guest post from Red Slice intern Suzi An
I am a Whole Foods fiend. I shop there every week, I read their blog on a daily basis, and I tweet about them constantly. In fact, Whole Foods is the reason I am going to a University; I wrote my college essay on Whole Foods. Now, I live in Queen Anne where two Metropolitan Markets exist. I tried to do the whole Met Market thing but I could not break away from my Whole Foods. Aesthetically, the Met Market’s exterior is pleasing. I am greeted by bundles of different colored flowers and stacks of in-season melons. But once I walk inside, I see minimal selections of everything from dairy to bread and I’m greeted with the smell of grease from the deli. I walk over to the produce section and I see small apples for over $2 a pound and vegetables that do not look so bright. I peruse the aisles and find that I could find the majority of their products at QFC (which is closer to where I live than Met Market). Where is the exciting marketplace that their mission promises? Everything looks generic and bland to me. The florescent lights blare down on my face and I know I do not look good in this light! I was led to believe that Met Market is a supporter of our local farmers but instead they focus on world-class products, which explains the higher prices. My experience at Met Market has been a bit depressing and underwhelming. Then I start checking out and I regret everything I just purchased. With maybe about eight or nine items, my total cost is around $80. I feel like for the amount of money I paid, I should have received much more.
Contrast this with my experiences at Whole Foods which make me feel like a better person. The minute I walk into any Whole Foods, I’m met with the smell of fantastic foods that are being prepared for customers. I walk through the pastry aisles and see a wide array of choices that I usually skip over it because it does get overwhelming from time to time. I then walk through the produce and fruit section where there are great looking colorful carrots on display among asparagus, kale, and swiss chard. The arugula looks amazingly fresh and crisp and I can smell the bananas and pineapple drifting toward me. I then walk to the bulk aisle but get distracted by the seafood section. The fillets of fish are glimmering and look so moist. The fishmongers are attractive and give you a smile as they shout out if you need any help. I weave in and out of the middle aisles until I finally backtrack and head towards the meat department. My mouth begins to water. All the different meats are carefully displayed and my attention goes to the rack of lamb. It sits there so deliciously that my mind wanders into the land of cooking possibilities. After I am done with my shopping escapade, I wobble towards the check out lines with my heavy groceries. My total comes out to be around $70.
Let’s reflect back on this for a moment: I bought fair trade bananas, organic, local, and GMO-free produce and fruits, preservative free products, and hormone-free, antibiotic-free, meats, along with many other snacks. Not to mention there was a fantastic sale on their pretzels and yogurt. I basically bought a good week and a half worth of groceries for less than what I had spent at Met Market, where I experienced lame service (except for the fishmonger, he was very nice) and a generic shopping experience. If I’m going to spend that much money at Met Market, I expect something more than just an average grocery market.
I appreciate the effort Whole Foods puts in to connecting with their customers and making them feel like how they shop makes a difference . I love the fact that every time I tweet about them, I receive a response. I love how the staff actually gives you recommendations and thanks you for bringing in your own bags while you are bagging your own groceries. You may say I’m obsessed, but the experience I receive at Whole Foods will make me a lifetime consumer – and loyal raving fan.