Saturday, September 13, 2008

Whole Foods

Whole Foods SeattleHave you heard of the grocery chain called Whole Foods?
Next to the Pan Pacific in Seattle, where Sandy and I stayed for Coffee Fest, was one of these stores. At first I thought it was a health food store, until I walked in. Ohhhh, was I wrong! Whole Foods is "an experience" in grocery retailing. I had never seen such a perfectly executed retail model. Let me explain:
As I walked in the doors, I was greeted with a fragrant corridor of fresh cut flowers. The smell really set the tone. The store is so clean and the signage is well laid out. I noticed immediately all the "fresh stations" that you can self-serve, like the Olive Station. 40-50 different kinds of olives for your delight, all at one price, $9.99 per pound. Just grab a container and start scooping and mixing. Then there is the cheese area with tons of free tasting plates and an expert ready to answer all your "cheesy" questions. It was like that all over the store. Salsa station, deserts, meats, breads, even a hot dinner station that you just scoop and go for one price, and the selections looked delicious.
Whole FoodsOK, here is the best part. Anyone who knows me knows I am always critiquing businesses on customer service. At Whole Foods I have to give them a 10/10. Everywhere I turned the service was spectacular. When I asked a question to a staff member, he walked me over to the shelf, then proceeded to explain all my choices in such a way that the vocabulary he used made me want to open the jar and start eating right there. I watched a cashier help a customer load her groceries into her back pack with such care, even suggesting the optimum loading pattern so the bread didn't get squished and the cans didn't dig into her back!
The best part was this — I was looking at the fresh fruit stacked and displayed in such a way you swear the pieces were glued together to stay balanced, and a staff member came over casually and said as he picked up a melon," Have you ever tried one of these (something something) melons? They just came in. The taste is life altering." No kidding, he said that with a straight face and with passion. He was serious and he had me sold. I ended up buying over $50 worth of stuff when I came in for a couple of waters!
Great job Whole Foods! You have a raving fan in me!