Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Whole Foods - A bright spot among cookie cutter stores

Disclaimer: This is NOT a paid review

Yesterday I had to buy some hard to find oils and other things, so we took this trip to Whole Foods. We usually don't go to Whole Foods that much becuase it is quite far from where we live and when I had last visited them I found it to be on the expensive side.

I didn't know that I was in for many pleasant surprises when I stepped in Whole Foods yesterday. Near the entrance I saw this big savings ad, apparently they had put some coupon book in the store, using which I could save some money. Being a couponaholic, I decided to get the book first. I couldn't locate it in its usual place near the entrance, so I inquired a store associate, he looked at the stand and he couldn't find it either, so he checked with the management and was told that it was at the back of the store. He told me the same, and I thought that I'll just shop first and grab the coupon book before checkout. Imagine my surprise when another WHole Foods store associate approached me while I was shopping and inquired if I was the one looking for their coupon book. When I said yes, she handed me one of the coupon books and said that she had only 3 left. Have you ever heard of a store associate actually locating the customer and handing them the store coupon book. At least I haven't.
Being a fussy vegetarian, I often find myself looking for hard to find products, in order to avoid any meat content. During this trip I had been searching for cheese which didn't have renet in it.
There were two gentlemen at their cheese shop, I reluctantly asked one of them if he could help me locate a cheese which doesn't have an animal content in it. Yeah, I phrased the question wrongly, All cheese has is animal content - it is made of milk afterall. But he guessed what I actually wanted to ask. He showed me how to find out from the label whether the cheese had any meat content (Renet) in it. He also recommended some varieties of cheese that might go well in the recipes I planned to try. I often feel intimidated by store associates and usually drop the plan to buy things instead of approaching an associate, but Whole Foods folks were really friendly.
Once I got everything I wanted we went for checkout. I was preoccupied with something else so I forgot to offer my reusable bag while the cashier was ringing up my items. When she begun to put my stuff in their paper bags, the employee next to her told her "She has a bag!" and offered to put my items in my bag. Now that was a first. I have been to stores where employees are reluctant to put things in reusable bags because it takes a few more seconds of their time. I don't know whether I should blame them, but I now try to put my things in the bag myself, so they don't have to feel that my reuable bags are extra work for them. Anyhow, it made me really happy that somebody else also cares for this.
While we were heading out my husband commented that its rare to have three good experience in a single trip to any store. I couldn't agree more with him. From now on, I'm an official Whole Foods fan :). Is it any wonder they top the list of America's healthiest grocery stores (thanks to Like Merchant Ships for the link)

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