On the first Wednesday of every other month, I have a column called Wednesdays at Whole Foods. It showcases the most interesting news, products, store events, and happenings at the company.
PAYING IT FORWARD (AND BACK)
In 1981, Whole Foods Market was just eight months old and its one location in Austin, Texas was hit by a flood that completely demolished the store’s interior and inventory. With no flood insurance, no savings, and no warehouse inventory, the company could have easily shut its doors for good.
However, the local community refused to let this happen and pitched in to fix up the entire store, which was critical in helping the company get back on its feet.
Nearly 35 years later, this has never been forgotten by John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO, who said “We ONLY survived because of the outpouring of love and support from local businesses, customers, neighbors, supplier partners and dedicated Team Members.”
Now that the company is in a very different financial position, it has decided to issue up to $1 million in emergency, no interest loans for businesses damaged by last week’s flooding.
“We were looking at how the community came together to help us get back in business after that Memorial Day (in 1981) and had this idea that we can pay it back and pay it forward at the same time,” said Kate Lowery, a spokeswoman for the company. “We are forever grateful and humbled by the outpouring of community love and now it’s our turn to help our neighbors.”
Any business in the Shoal Creek section of Austin that was impacted by the floods and is interested in receiving a loan can apply by emailing LPLP@WholeFoods.com.
MY TAKE: I love that the company is doing this. Awesome!
THE NAME GAME
As I wrote about recently, Whole Foods Market made a blockbuster announcement that it will be launching a lower-priced grocery chain under a completely different name.
Very little information was released except that stores will begin to open in 2016 and more news will be coming in September.
Meanwhile, there has been a lot of speculation about what exactly the new name of this chain will be.
According to Bloomberg, the company recently filed several trademarks for 365, Dailyshop, Clever Egg, Small Batch, Swiftgoods and Greenlife. So, it may very well be one of these.
In case you missed my analysis of this big announcement, here are three reasons why I think this news is very, very positive for organic consumers.
ON THE SHELVES
The following are new products at Whole Foods Market.
BluePrint is launching a new pressed organic juice just for the summer – Watermelon Apple Mint Lemon. Super-refreshing and exclusive to Whole Foods Market.
Creminelli Fine Meats has a new line of ham (from non-GMO fed pigs) available exclusively at Whole Foods Market deli counters and prepared foods departments in the U.S. The artisan deli hams are made without antibiotics and synthetic nitrates, and are from farms that have achieved certification to the Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step Animal Welfare rating system.
My favorite brand of organic olives, Divina, is launching a line of Biodynamic whole kalamata olives which are sourced from a single estate in Greece. Smoky and fruity in flavor.
There are three regionally-inspired barbecue sauces from the 365 Everyday Value line:
– 365 Everyday Value Organic Kansas City Love Barbecue Sauce: Known for its unique tomato-based barbecue sauces, this Kansas City inspired sauce features a thicker consistency and satisfies your sweet tooth with a little underlying heat.
– 365 Everyday Value Organic Memphis Madness Barbecue Sauce: Popularized by the annual “World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest,” Memphis-style barbecue has a highly coveted flavor. This Memphis Madness sauce features a tangy, sweet and spicy profile.
– 365 Everyday Value Organic Texas True Barbecue Sauce: This true “mop sauce” lives up to the Texas BBQ hype and offers a savory and tangy taste.
Simply Organic grilling seasonings has five new organic spice blends: steak, chicken, chop, seafood and vegetable. But the best part is that Simply Organic donates 1% percent of net sales from these seasonings to support organic agriculture through education, research and grower development.
In celebration of Hemp History Week, there will be a national weekend sale on June 6-7 on tons of products that contain hemp ingredients — hemp milk, cereals, granola, waffles, protein powders, nutrition bars, breads, snacks, chips, pastas, flour, vegetarian burgers and a large variety of personal care products.
Being on ABCs Shark Tank didn’t just land 10 year-old entrepreneur Mikaila Ulmer an investment from Daymond John, but it also helped get BeeSweet Lemonade a loan from Whole Foods Market’s local producer loan program and placement in all of the company’s 32 stores in the Southwest Region.
Whole Foods Market is partnering with Seventh Generation on a “buy one give one” diaper promotion that will last all summer long. For every packet of “free and clear” diapers shoppers buy at Whole Foods Market, Seventh Generation will donate a package to non-profit Baby Buggy for distribution to babies in need throughout the U.S.
Lastly, here is a very cool article where co-CEO Walter Robb reflects back on the grand opening of the Detroit store and calls it “one of the greatest days of my life”.
Given the reception below and the years of hard work that went into this project, it is not hard to see why he feels this way.