I like this post from Jennifer Rice about the experience at Whole Foods: What's Your Brand Mantra?: ROI of Customer Experience. There is a Whole Foods in downtown Atlanta (about 30 minutes from where I live) that I'll make special trips to every now and then. What I love about it:
- The flower shop has a wide variety of great flowers, healthy and colorful, and not the same desperately sad arrangements of carnations and whatnot that you get at regular grocery stores. These are flowers Martha Stewart would be proud of.
- The produce section makes me want to eat more fruits and vegetables. The variety is better than at most stores, and the presentation is definitely better. There's something about the feeling that you're shopping at an outdoor market that makes you feel you are healthier, more sophisticated, smarter, etc.
- The cheese rocks. I'm a big fan of cheese, and I like recipes involving cheese. At the regular grocery store, you can't find decent versions of half the cheeses you need (they generally offer horrible parmigiano reggiano) if you can find them at all (try finding ricotta salata at my Kroger). There is nothing better on this earth than Hudson Valley Camembert and a good baguette.
- The prepared foods are generally pretty good, offering a wide variety of stuff that's not even in the same league as the meager, limp, questionably fresh selection offered by regular grocery stores.
There's something about Whole Foods that borrows a page from the Starbucks handbook -- the idea of luxury, wholesomeness and a variety of exotic choices in a less fluorescent atmosphere. Even though we could get a cheap cup of coffee at McDonald's or Dunkin Donuts, we go to Starbucks to reward ourselves. I also go to Whole Foods to reward myself.
I would give anything if they'd build one closer to me. Whole Foods, hear my plea!!!!