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new Oakland Whole foods..shocking ..rant [Moved from Not About Food]

I dropped by the new Oakland Whole Foods today.. here is my depressing report..

First,on the positive side. as usual the store is very sexy and slick.
Here is the sad part. First, I had forgotten how over priced the place is (had been to other ones and forgot why I boycott the place) .. much higher than Berkeley bowl (for produce anyways). You would think that with all their massive buying power they would charge decent prices, but they over charge on everything. I don't know why this store is so successful.
Some observations..
Crappy non local produce, at higher than farmer's market prices. For example icky over waxed apples from South america, when Great local stuff is flying off the trees right now.

Fish was not particularly fresh looking, even though it was opening day.. Cloudy eyed fish on display. dried out looking squid, silmy fish fillets.

Wine prices are very high, 10-20 % higher than wine stores, even small ones.
Some wines I have seen for 14 dollars are 18 dollars there. some 10 dollar wines are 12 dollars.. dosent sound like much??? well I think 20% is a lot more .. just add up the cost over a year.. and their "sale" prices on like 10 wines are only a dollar lower (or the same) than the regular everyday prices at many stores.. for Example Ridge Geyserville "on sale" for 28.49 or something like that ,, when it can be had everday at other places for 30 dollars..what a bargain.
that is a pricey example but you get the picture...

How do they get away with this .. with ALL THEIR BUYING CLOUT AND POWER, they shoud pass some SAVINGS on to the customer.. I guess even though I live less than 5 minutes away, I will continue to avoid Whole Foods. (even though I am sure I will still shop there in emergency last minute times, YES I am a hypocrite) You would think in a relatively poorer area, they would cut us a break. But I guess its just a place for "aspirational " types who like to see and be seen in the proper mileu and don't care about being ripped off.
I guess the emperor truly has no clothes,, people just convince themselves how great this place is when its alot of flash and not much substance.

By the way there is not enough bicycle parking.. all the slots were full..

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  1. Dude, it's "Whole Foods" ... meaning you're getting the chance to pay a premium to avoid all those nasty "partial foods" at the markets 99.9% of the population shops at (careful, they're dying like flies ... LOOK OUT! You almost bought something with white sugar in it!)

    Shop where they act like they want you, relax and enjoy life a lot more (those "organic only" treehuggers are dying in equal numbers, they just don't admit it).

    1 Reply
    1. re: wayne keyser

      Funny stuff, wayne.

      jason, I made a couple of visits to the Whole Foods here in Westchester, NY, where by the way they comp for parking but you take your life in your hands trying to battle the yuppies for a space.

      Other than finding an amazing Greek yogurt (which even my good ole' standby Stop and Shop has now), I was neither impressed enough with their goods to continue to risk life and limb in the lot, nor was I willing to pay their outrageous prices.

      It's a gimmick, and good-o on them that they've found an audience willing to pay those prices. Keeps the economy going, I guess. All flash and no substance seems to be the mantra these days in more than supermarkets. Good post.

    2. mr. carey, consumers in the Bay Area are extremely fortunate--abundancy of neighborhood farmer markets when many of our local farms were paved over and subdivided, one of our blessings-- and WF considers its market niche sufficiently established that competitive/consumer friendly pricing isn't what I expect there. To me it's a 'super-sized' convenience store (no lottery tickets though--it's geared more for bourgeois bohemian) with some inclinations(organic/sustainable foods usw.) compatible with mine. There's a definite economic caste system in supermarket chains, and N.Cal is top heavy with Mollie Stone's, Andronico's, WF, plus locals like Piedmont Grocery in Oaktown. Locally/family-owned Berkeley Bowl is a one-of with a very different ethos, obviously. And you know that some of those items that the big chains say they're "passing savings to the consumer" are micro-margin "loss leaders." cheers

      1 Reply
      1. re: moto

        What you said.

        Although I describe it as Supply and Demand.

      2. There's a reason my friends call it "Whole Paycheck".

        1. Well said Jason and Im not surprised. Ive become more and more disgruntled with WF here in NJ but I, aslo being a hypocrite, often go there for the salad bars which usually have a good find for lunch.

          I have completely transferred all my buying to Trader Joe's which is everything that WF isnt. They treat you great, have great products, and believe it or not at great prices.

          1. I often feel as though I'm the only one who likes Whole Foods. I never do all of my grocery shopping there, but there are quite a few items that I can't find anywhere else.

            Their turkey & swiss paninis on pretzel bread are amazing. I love their salmon burgers. They also tend to have higher quality pre-cut fruit than others, at shockingly competitive prices. They're also the only place around here that I've found grind-it-yourself honey-roasted peanut butter.

            2 Replies
            1. re: koggit

              Ill have to give it to you on the peanut butter and the almond butter that is freshly grinded. Really cant get anything else like that in other places. Their salad bar selection does keep me coming even though I do complain.

              To be honest, that turkey/pretzel sandwich you talk about sounds great.

              1. re: koggit

                I haven't found the grind-it-yourself station in the new Oakland store, where is it ?

                Also , notice there is no bulk section. It is supposed to appear "sometime" I was told.

                Then another employee said it would be a "limited selection" of bulk items due to "child safety".

                Purchased a "fresh" rock cod filet last night, but should have asked to smell it first. When I got home it smelled too fishy and unusable.

                I did get a nice filet mignon from the meat section the night before and the price seemed fine for the quality.

                Organic squash was much better tasting than what I purchased from Lucky where it was very cheap.