Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wild Oats to Whole Foods: An Update

Posted By on Thu, Jul 30, 2009 at 8:47 PM

ab3c/1249005346-meat_case.jpgThe Wild Oats/Whole Foods transition was completed in October 2008. We checked in for an update.

In addition to more seating for in-store dining, Whole Foods carries products from more than 22 local producers… and not just fruits and veggies. “We have local cheese, raw food, body care, and honey,” says Liza Burke, the marketing team leader at the store. “And we are actively seeking additional local producers.“ Customers curious about the origin of local products can review a map that is located at the front of the store.

While the fundamental core values of the two merged stores are similar, some differences remain.

“Whole Foods has smaller departments,” Burke says. “For example, the meat and seafood used to be one department… now it’s two. Each department is more focused.”

And speaking of seafood, Burke takes a moment to brag on the fresh selection. “Whole Foods actually has its own fishing boats,” she says. “We get the pick of fresh seafood every day and it’s flown overnight to each store.”

The store also places a strong emphasis on customer service, something that has helped the customer base increase since the transition.

If customers are craving a Wild Oats brand product (there are still a limited number on the shelves at Whole Foods), they can put in a request for the item.

“Whole Foods takes into heavy consideration customer comments and requests,” Burke says. “It is possible … [we] might add to the WFM private label line. If not, we can always try to source something very similar.”

Many of the Whole Foods brand products are very similar to Wild Oats products, and if customers aren’t sure about switching, they can try the new product in the store.

At this point, there are no plans to add a second Whole Foods store in Memphis, but Burke says it could be possible in the future.

(Images: Whole Foods)

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