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What has happened to Whole Foods in Yorkville?

l
letrell Sep 21, 2011 05:54 AM

Oh, how I want to love this place. I've been shopping there for years but have noticed a steep decline in the quality and freshness.
Yesterday I purchased watermelon that was mushy and dinner rolls that were stale. I've had milk spoil 2 days after bringing it home. Their "ultimate burgers" were almost inedible.
I shop there because I thought paying extra means better quality and fresher foods. No so. My last 3 shopping experiences have been consistently disappointing.

I think it's time to break up with Whole Foods. Big Carrot? I wish St. Lawrence Market had more organic choices.

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St. Lawrence Market
92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

  1. y
    ylsf Nov 15, 2011 11:22 AM

    I know this discussion is about the Yorkville location but I went to the Square One location over the weekend and it is impressive... More selection/items. Definitely a lot larger location (even than the Oakville store that I frequent more often). A lot of interesting things there like re-usable containers for bulk food (with deposit... mason jars) and re-usable containers for bulk oils, etc. I don't recall seeing that at other locations.

    1. prima Nov 15, 2011 10:50 AM

      I've been shopping more frequently at the Whole Foods in Hazelton Lanes lately, mostly out of convenience, and have been happy with my recent purchases. I have never had anything from WF go bad prematurely. I haven't bought any poultry- and would be very disappointed if it was off.

      If you spent any significant amount of money on the poultry or meat, Arcadiaseeker, I'd return the off product to WF (double ziploc bagging it, then freeze it, if it's really off), or at least call them with your complaint, so they can refund your money or give you a credit. Then spend the credit on something less perishable ;-)

      Lately, I have been emailing the grocery store or the manufacturer through their customer service sites when they've sold me items that have not been acceptable. Metro will send gift cards in the mail, to cover the cost of the unacceptable item, if you provide the details of the purchase. I'd imagine WF would do the same.

      I've found some good deals on Raincoast tuna, and I like that they carry Sunflower Kitchens products. I also like the more spacious lay-out- which is a complete contrast to the crowded lay-out at any of the Pusateri's. There seem to be less screaming, spoiled kids with inattentive, laissez-faire parents when I've gone shopping at Whole Foods, in comparison to the typical scene at the both uptown Pusteri locations.

      I've been more disappointed with the produce at the Big Carrot over the last year or so, so I rarely shop there, unless I really need to kill time near Chester station.

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      Pusateri's
      1539 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

      3 Replies
      1. re: prima
        m
        magic Nov 15, 2011 11:10 AM

        I agree. I shop there as I find their 90 minute validated parking super convenient. They also have some very good sales and if you look carefully (and being a cheapskate, I look) not everything is overpriced. Would I do all my shopping there? No way. But if you have a bit of common sense you’ll do very well there without spending all that much.

        I also agree that there seems to be far fewer screaming little monsters there and the extra aisle space is welcome. The lines also seem to move very quickly, which I like. And I’ve had only good to exceptional experiences with the staff (so far). And the space itself is pretty! They do a good job with it. Honestly, I always have a good shopping experience there.

        Two things:
        1. I much preferred their pre-reno layout.
        2. Where has their low fat banana bread gone?

        1. re: magic
          sasgirl Nov 15, 2011 11:30 AM

          I agree with magic and prima. I've been to both the Square One and Yorkville locations. I frequently go to the Yorkville one as I work close to that one and I get my lunch from there. I found that if you have any issues or are looking for a product, you can ask them questions through their facebook page called "Whole Foods Yorkville" and they are pretty good at replying back promptly. But I agree with ediblethoughts, it's hard to find someone to help you when you are there looking for a product.

          And I noticed they have renovated the eating area in Hazelton Lanes just outside WF so it's a nice area to sit if you want to eat there.

          When I went to the Square One location, they had just opened and the people working there were so eager to help you out! We asked one guy for a product and he practically led us across the store to where it was.

        2. re: prima
          f
          Flexitarian Nov 15, 2011 09:47 PM

          Hmmm, I thought I was picky but maybe not. I always shop at The Big Carrot and find everything they sell excellent, with the exception of the peppers once in a while. But that's to be expected. When selling perishable items you can't expect to have 100% fresh items 100% of the time.

          The only problem I have with the store is that many of their tongs on the bulk bins are no longer attached to the bins and so could fall on the floor and be put back by people. This is not sanitary at all, but that seems to be the same problem wherever you buy bulk foods.

        3. y
          ylsf Nov 11, 2011 09:00 PM

          I was in the Yorkville location tonight. It was the first time I have been there in about a year (at that specific location). Surprised to see all of the renovations (express check out lines, another entrance/exit, etc).... However, I find the service lacking compared to the Oakville store. Whenever I approach a counter in Oakville I am greeted and asked if I need help. I was looking at some desserts for a good 5 minutes and then was just staring over the counter for another minute or two while staff was milling around without anyone asking me if I needed help. Anyway, I didn't really "need' dessert so I decided to skip it :)

          1 Reply
          1. re: ylsf
            Ediblethoughts Nov 15, 2011 10:28 AM

            That is one thing I've really noticed sinced they renovated: It is very difficult to find someone to help you. And with how confusing is it to find anything since the move, they REALLY need more people to be on hand to answer questions.

          2. d
            Doopsylalolic Nov 11, 2011 04:54 PM

            I don't know if it's time to give up, or anything like that. Also the comments about meats, fish, prepared food are unfortunate. But in the case of tired produce, isn't the problem that they stock a lot more than they sell, so it ends up looking second-best? They did have great presentation of their produce – ends out, stacked high, lots of light – and it's obvious that Loblaw had to copy them on this.

            The problem is, if you stock more than you sell, you'll end up with second-rate freshness.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Doopsylalolic
              hal2010 Nov 11, 2011 06:30 PM

              Isn't stocking more than they sell contrary to their wholesome, organic image? Are they throwing away food for the sake of appearances?

            2. a
              Arcadiaseeker Nov 11, 2011 06:49 AM

              Last night we went to BBQ a Whole Foods marinated butterfly chicken - opened the packaging and realized pretty quickly it was majorly off. Had to throw the whole thing out. What a waste of $$$. It had been in our fridge for 2 days but that should not have made a big difference. This thing was seriously off. That on top of the festering beef kebabs we ended up paying huge $$$ for back in summer. I am getting ready to swear off Whole Foods meat frankly. Too bad.

              1. t
                Toronto Fastfoodie Sep 26, 2011 07:00 PM

                I second Fiesta Farms. But I also strongly recommend the plethora of Farmer's Markets that are open year round. I LOVE the Thurs. market at Dufferin Grove park and the Sat. market at Wychwood barns.

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                Fiesta Farms
                200 Christie St, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

                1. Ediblethoughts Sep 22, 2011 07:33 PM

                  I used to go once a week and stopped doing so for the convenience factor more than anything else. I still find their organic selection is better than anyone else's--most of the time. If I want to go shopping in the evening, might as well skip any other place because the organics are pawed over or done. They are more pricey than Loblaws. Usually I find the quality of fruit and veg pretty good--exceptions do occur. I've never had an issue with milk expiring before the due date that I can recall and I do generally buy milk there.

                  1. d
                    dubchild Sep 22, 2011 09:33 AM

                    If you are looking for an alternative which has an organic section and a decent selection of specialty items, try Fiesta Farms.

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                    Fiesta Farms
                    200 Christie St, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: dubchild
                      s
                      Smachnoho Sep 22, 2011 10:14 AM

                      I have to put in my 2 cents. Bought chicken that was off. And I am disappointed in the quality and variety of the prepared foods. I was in the US recently and went to a "Tradder Joe's" and it was fantastic.
                      What can folks tell me about Fiesta Farms? What do they offer?

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                      Fiesta Farms
                      200 Christie St, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

                      1. re: Smachnoho
                        5
                        5andman Sep 22, 2011 04:16 PM

                        It seems their competitors have caught up, while Whole Foods has become complacent in the marketplace.
                        I have to agree with the "ex-employee venting letter" that Whole Foods is just a Wal-mart now.

                        1. re: 5andman
                          hal2010 Sep 22, 2011 04:30 PM

                          A Wal-mart with astronomical prices. $12 for a Caesar salad kit? You can go to a restaurant for less.

                        2. re: Smachnoho
                          f
                          froglegs Sep 23, 2011 06:33 AM

                          Wear a sweater! That store was freezing last week!

                      2. a
                        AverageJo Sep 22, 2011 09:16 AM

                        I can't comment on the produce, milk, or meats, but last time I decided to treat myself to some nice takeout prepared foods, I was woefully disappointed. The selection had shrunk considerably. Many of my favourites were gone and replaced by much more mundane, plain dishes. I know WF varies the salads up for offer, but this was ridiculous. If I want chickpeas, I can get them anywhere! I patronize WF for the "exotica" -- prepared dishes I'm not likely to find elsewhere. (Given that Pusateri's and McEwan don't cater much to vegetarians, WF or TBC is my best option)

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                        Pusateri's
                        1539 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

                        1. a
                          Arcadiaseeker Sep 22, 2011 07:29 AM

                          I should also add that these problem have been since late July and that I have always had incredibly fresh and tasty produce etc. from Whole Foods - it's a new issue.

                          1. a
                            Arcadiaseeker Sep 22, 2011 07:29 AM

                            I've had these problems too. Spoiled milk for sure. And my mother has had spoiled meat twice in the same two week period - she cooked kebabs for us one night and they smelled really really rotten. Not just a little off. Thank goodness we noticed before eating. I am wondering if the renovations have meant they are storing stuff in a new or different cold area? It seems like a storage issue to me. At any rate, they refunded right away for rotten milk, meat etc.

                            1. m
                              ManAbout Sep 21, 2011 12:58 PM

                              It very well could be that the market for organic produce in Toronto is not as mature as Wholefoods thought.

                              The reason that there is spoiled produce laying around is because people aren't buying enough of it.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ManAbout
                                k
                                kingsway Sep 21, 2011 05:09 PM

                                As I said earlier, the competition stepped up in Canada and the rift between mainstream grocers and Whole Foods much less than the US. I personally think US food stores suck (Albertsons, Vons, Safeway, etc) compared to Longos, Loblaws (even Sobeys) so Whole Foods has a distinct upscale/organic place in the US market.

                              2. ParsleySage Sep 21, 2011 12:03 PM

                                The same question can be asked of Whole Foods in general. When my local Whole Foods in Oakville opened a few years ago I would shop there at least twice a week sometimes more because the takeaway foods were fresh and well prepared and the prices were decent. They had different products lines--stuff you couldn't find anywhere else and I enjoyed some of their 365 products. Fast forward to 2011 and its a vastly different experience for me now..they have shrunk the portions of the takeaway foods and increased the prices and their product list has reduced to the point where the majority of what I see in the freezer section are McCain products?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: ParsleySage
                                  f
                                  froglegs Sep 22, 2011 08:49 AM

                                  There should not be spoiled foods in any store but as far as pricing and portion size is concerned, food prices have risen significantly. Not only are grocery stores grappling with this this global issue, but also suppliers, restaurants , farmers, etc. It all trickles down to higher prices for us, the consumer!
                                  People grumble about small portions in restaurants, this is one reason why. Not only are suppliers charging more, but now they are charging higher delivery fees too! It's a tough business all around. I guess the bottom line is everyone is affected.

                                  1. re: froglegs
                                    k
                                    katana750 Sep 23, 2011 10:15 PM

                                    I think the original post was quality, not price. Things have gone up. I'd like to go to WF in T.O. I've only gone in U.S. There were organic in local Dominion(Metro) but not much in last 2 yrs. We need to support good? food so that suppliers will stock them. My 2 cents

                                2. k
                                  kingsway Sep 21, 2011 12:00 PM

                                  The Square 1 location I find very average. Whole Foods have pushed chains like Loblaws and Longos to up their game and in most instances I feel they offer better selection, better pricing and an equally pleasing shopping experience. Sure, if I had time to make multiple trips for groceries I may feel WF is worth the extra effort (or price)

                                  1. justsayn Sep 21, 2011 06:55 AM

                                    Have you reported this to them? What did they say?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: justsayn
                                      l
                                      letrell Sep 21, 2011 11:15 AM

                                      I returned a spoiled milk bag a few weeks ago. The manager was gracious and handled the manner wonderfully. That said, I keep buying fruits and veggies that are old or spoiled when I return home. Maybe it's me.
                                      I feel strange going back again with spoiled items.

                                      1. re: letrell
                                        justsayn Sep 21, 2011 11:56 AM

                                        I am the same way with returns, unless it is something large. That being said, one can still bring it to their attention as feedback. Then you get to find out if they even care...and hopefully they make changes.

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