True: Whole Foods buying Greenlife Grocery

The rumors are true: Texas-based Whole Foods is buying the Asheville and Chattanooga Greenlife groceries. Here’s the complete press release:

Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:  WFMI) and Greenlife Grocery LLC today announce they have signed an asset purchase agreement under which Whole Foods Market will assume all assets of Greenlife Grocery.

Greenlife Grocery operates two grocery stores in the Southeast, at 301 Manufacturer’s Road in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and at 70 Merrimon Avenue in Asheville, North Carolina.  The original Greenlife Grocery was opened by founder Chuck Pruett on July 10, 1999, on Hixson Pike in Chattanooga, and relocated to the Two North Shore complex off Manufacturer’s Road in November 2007.  The Asheville location was opened by Chuck Pruett and Asheville business partner John Swann on July 17, 2004.

“Greenlife is an outstanding grocery retailer and a vibrant and valued part of the communities it serves.  We are proud to welcome Greenlife into the Whole Foods Market family.  The customers and Team Members who define the Greenlife culture have created a truly special natural, organic and local food community in Chattanooga and Asheville.  We believe Whole Foods Market’s presence in the Southeast and our culture as a company will be enriched by this deal with Greenlife,” said Scott Allshouse, president, Whole Foods Market South Region.

According to Greenlife CEO and founder Chuck Pruett, “A deal with Whole Foods Market makes sense for us at this time in our company’s life cycle.  Over the last eleven years, we have built a solid foundation for natural, organic and locally grown food in Tennessee and North Carolina.  We are particularly proud of Greenlife’s commitment and history of supporting the local food economy.  Joining with Whole Foods Market, which shares a similar vision for supporting local and regional food networks, will open up even more opportunities for our customers to shop for the best and widest variety of the foods they value, and expand opportunities for local producers to sell their products.  Our Team Members, too, will gain more opportunities to expand their food horizons and careers, thanks to Whole Foods Market’s network of global natural and organic food resources and store locations in North America and Great Britain.’”

‘I sincerely appreciate all the customer support we have enjoyed over the years in Chattanooga and Asheville, and I believe that our customers will continue to get the same great shopping experience after the deal closes.  Based on their history and core value of Team Member happiness and excellence, I believe Whole Foods Market will care for our Team Members just as much as I have since the first day we opened our doors.’ ”

The transaction is expected to close within a couple of weeks.

# # #
                                                              (continued)

About Whole Foods Market®
Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com, NASDAQ: WFMI), is the leading natural and organic food retailer. As America’s first national certified organic grocer, Whole Foods Market was named “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” by Health magazine. The company’s motto “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet”™ captures its mission to ensure customer satisfaction and health, Team Member excellence and happiness, enhanced shareholder value, community support and environmental improvement. Thanks to the company’s more than 53,000 Team Members, Whole Foods Market has been ranked as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in America by FORTUNE magazine for 13 consecutive years. In fiscal year 2009, the company had sales of $8 billion and currently has more than 280 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

About Greenlife Grocery LLC
Founded in 1999 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Greenlife Grocery has made a name for itself as a full-service natural grocery foods store and café in both Chattanooga and then at its second location in Asheville, North Carolina, where it opened in 1994. The company focuses on offering high quality organic foods and environmentally responsible products. Greenlife is also proud to carry a strong selection of local and regional products, helping to support the local farms and businesses of its communities.

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About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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95 thoughts on “True: Whole Foods buying Greenlife Grocery

  1. Piffy!

    oh boy, another great target the pretend-archists will avoid because its well-lit.

  2. Sandra B

    I do not like this deal at all. I have shopped in whole foods before while I was visiting some friends in Austin and their food was way over priced. Moreover, Whole Foods is part of NASDAQ which means it’s another corporate entity just trying to make the most money for their stock holders. I’m very disappointed that Greenlife decided to go through with this deal. I guess I’ll stop shopping at Greenlife and do so more at the French Broad co-op and Earthfare since they are still locally owned.

  3. annica2

    i love whole foods. they’re the best competition to the monsanto, tyson, factory farming, gmo monopoly. and the ceo is probably the most conscious business owner in the corporate world. i have a lot of friends who work at the stores in chicago. the employees there are treated very, very well.

  4. Asheville Dweller

    Another chain, oh my just like doc cheys and the mellow mushroom.

  5. ashevillain7

    I heard a rumor that Earth Fare uses Sysco for their hot bar, salad bar, etc. Can anyone confirm/deny this rumor?

  6. skiplunch

    Yikes, the Whole Foods trucks are probably even bigger…can you say clusterf**k….

  7. Hey there Ashevillians! This is your 100% completely locally owned natural food retailer–the French Broad Food Co-op. Did you know that over 20% of our purchases are from local vendors and/or local products? And our goal is to continue to increase our local purchases each year. Keep local dollars local–shop your co-op! You’ll be surprised with our low prices and outstanding customer service. Since 1975.

  8. I am sorry to hear it. Greenlife is an amazing market and hub for meeting people in Asheville. It is a unique spot. Whole Foods creates a nice enough environment – but it is the same environment across the country – and it is not a local company. I truly love living where there are unique and local places of business to invest in my community.

  9. I am sorry to hear it. Greenlife is an amazing market and hub for meeting people in Asheville. It is a unique spot. Whole Foods creates a nice enough environment – but it is the same environment across the country – and it is not a local company. I truly love living where there are unique and local places of business to invest in my community.

  10. Greenlifer

    Hello,
    As a long time Greenlifer, I was pretty troubled by the initial rumors of a Whole Foods takeover. Last night we had a store meeting with Chuck Pruett and Whole Foods people. From what we are told, Greenlife will stay more or less the same.We will carry the same awesome products. We will stay in the same location. Almost all decisions will be made by the store. While this is not what any of wanted, some good things will come out of. Greenlifers will have access to better, and, in some cases, free health care. We will be paid a wage we can actually live on. If the store chooses(our same old department managers), we will carry some Whole Foods 365 products (only on a product to product basis and based customer demand)which tend to be more affordable. Most of us at Greenlife are trying to stay positive–mainly because we don’t have any control over the merger.

  11. skiplunch

    Whole Foods is just trying to stay competitive. Super market mergers are all the rage. Dolly Parton just bought grocery chains Big Star, Piggly Wiggly and Harris Teeter. The chain will be called Big Wiggly Teeters.

  12. jenluvnola

    It’s interesting reading these comments. Most of you are entirely incorrect in your assumptions about Whole Foods. My husband works for Greenlife, and the staff couldn’t be happier about this! It has already been agreed upon that the ENTIRE staff will remain on board and that Whole Foods will keep EVERY LOCAL VENDOR already established with Greenlife. Greenlife keeps its name and will benefit from better health coverage which includes spouses and partners, and get this…it’s FREE! 401k is matched 100%. Greenlife was never able to offer 401k. All in all, this is a GOOD thing! Sad how many people on here, are so negative, without really knowing all the info.

  13. Dorothy

    To respond to a comment above, Earth Fare DOES NOT use Sysco for hot/salad bar.

  14. tacostacos

    Whole Foods is, indeed, a mixed bag. However, I am continually disappointed by grocery stores in Asheville, and this can only raise the bar. At least I will have somewhere to get non-bruised produce.

    Also, WFM will be an excellent employer, with good benefits, decent wages, and the opportunity for growth within the company.

    The 365 store brand is affordable and usually an impressive product.

    It’s not exactly Mellow Mushroom, but it sure isn’t Staples either.

  15. john m

    If the French Broad Food Coop had a cafe/salad bar/deli I would eat there every day.

    Earthfare and the Food COOP are both locally owned. Keep your dollars in Asheville! Don’t send your money to Austin.

  16. Asheville Joe

    Another great example of how “local” and “ethical” businesses inside of our current economy are often only so because they haven’t attraked the attention of larger firms yet (Burt’s Bees, Ben and Jerry’s are other examples).

  17. J

    Hello people. Chuck is a business man. He said “A deal with Whole Foods Market makes sense for us at this time in our company’s life cycle.” Company’s life cycle is insider speak for, you guessed it, “i’m in it for the money!” You have all been sucked into the black hole of tell the public what they want to hear and they will buy your stuff.

  18. N

    In Santa Fe, my hometown, Whole Foods bought up two smaller chains and closed all the stores but one, which is now mobbed and overpriced because there’s no competition. Not pretty. Wonder if they’ll be coming for Earth Fare next.

  19. andy

    Biggest concern/disappointment: keeping the same entire staff. I hope Whole Foods will read these comments and take us seriously. The cashiers and the managers are always obnoxious at Greenlife.

  20. In response to John M…the French Broad Food Co-op does have a deli and soon a salad bar. We also feature indoor and outdoor seating on our newly renovated patio…one of the best in downtown Asheville we’ve been told. Check us out soon and see for yourself. And please let us know how we can serve you better. BTW, all of our deli items are natural or organic, and mainly local in origin.

  21. dawn

    Nutrition World will now be the only locally owned health food store.

  22. contentpersephone

    I love French Broad Co-Op!

    Earthfare is OK too, though somewhat out of my way. The west asheville location is a lot better than the S. Asheville one, in terms of selection.

    There are about 2 cashiers/workers at Greenlife who are pleasant to deal with. As for the rest? ick. At least *pretend* to be courteous to me while I’m dropping my $80, eh?

    well, that’s why I don’t even bother shopping there anymore. seriously.

    Now I’m even less likely to do so. Same staff, even worse pricing, not locally-owned.

    yeah, no.

  23. Carrie

    I shop at Greenlife very often. I don’t think I’ve experienced any rude staffers. Maybe a few times the people I dealt with weren’t in the best mood, but I I just chalked that up to their mood that day or maybe a slight attitude… definitely no outright rudeness.

    Just Thrs. I talked with a man at the fish counter for 10 minutes, at least. They were out of the fish I wanted for a recipe and he helped me choose an alternative and told me how to cook it. I was clueless! That’s just been my experience.

    As for Whole Foods, I’ve always loved shopping there. I hope they keep all the local venders that Greenlife has offered and maybe they can increase them on some level. I’ll just have to wait and see on this one. If they don’t offer some of the things I love about Greenlife i’ll seek alternatives but I don’t know right now:)

  24. Christi

    Someone commented above that they’ll shop at Earthfare more because they are still locally owned. Earthfare hasn’t been locally owned in sometime, they are owned by a capital investment firm in Boston. Earthfare’s corporate office is here in Asheville, but the profit still flows to the owners in Boston.

  25. Christi Butt

    …locally owned shopping options include French Broad Coop and West Village Market in West Asheville. (Earthfare is not locally owned, it’s owned by a company in Boston, Earthfare corporate offices are here, but it’s not owned locally anymore and hasn’t been for some time).

  26. Christi Butt

    …locally owned shopping options include French Broad Coop and West Village Market in West Asheville. (Earthfare is not locally owned, it’s owned by a company in Boston, Earthfare corporate offices are here, but it’s not owned locally anymore and hasn’t been for some time).

  27. I’m sure Whole Foods Co. looked closely at the numbers. Greenlife has been a cash cow since opening…it was an instant success. It’s in my neighborhood, so I’ve been there a lot and have seen the booming business.

  28. annica2

    “wow…..whole foods is a lot more expensive than Greenlife”

    greenlife is way more expensive than whole foods. i miss the stores in chicago and austin. they were entirely affordable. now, i shop at amazing savings and earth fare. earth fare is also way more expensive than whole foods, but the buffet there is irresistable.

  29. worries me

    Silly platform for singling
    out cashiers. A little off
    the subject,
    oh resentment for the very
    small space of a transaction.
    (Which likely dominates your
    correspondence with the world)
    Predator! We must deal with
    you to varying degrees!
    Still humans, still words.
    Heavily dependent on your own
    constitution.

    1. The service industry, oh the caste of it all!

  30. Cheshire

    Hey, FBFC: pick up some soy-free alternatives to your selection and I’d probably start shopping there again. It’s one of the top 10 food allergies, but 90% of what you carry that’s on my shopping list has soy as a major component with no alternate brand/whatever.

  31. Nick S

    Greenlife might keep its local vendors and store identity for the short term, but once it’s part of the Whole Foods empire, you have to think that the rebranding and decisions from on high regarding vendors will come along in time.

  32. Piffy!

    I stopped caring much to go out of my way to shop at fbfc when they felt it more ‘healthy’ to carry a tobacco product owned by one of the “Big Tobacco” companies than putting an emphasis on locally produced meat products.

  33. chefaugogo

    I have shopped and eaten at both Greenlifes, I will say I like ashevilles better.I have friends that work at both and they will be better off working for whole foods . If it is going to be about the money( which it certainly is with Greenlife) the employees should benefit. Whole Foods is becoming a formidable grocery power and is changing the foodscape. Equal access to fresh food is a human right and cooperatives such as the French Broad Co-op are more about that , Also leave the cashiers alone IT IS A TOUGH JOB I like their attitude don`t want their servitude

    Chef

  34. tacostacos

    I don’t expect “servitude” but the service industry does dictate that you will do your job.

    I worked in the service industry and the grocery industry for many years, and if I performed my job the way that many in Asheville grocery do, I would have been immediately fired. It’s embarassing to see cashiers who are texting while you wait with your groceries or discussing their hangovers loudly with the baggers.

    It’s a job. Act like it.

  35. “Also leave the cashiers alone IT IS A TOUGH JOB I like their attitude don`t want their servitude “

    We’re well aware it’s a hard job, but I’ve seen some make a real effort to make it enjoyable for them. The ones who overtly pass judgement on food they don’t eat (like the vegans) and act like it’s a p.o.s. they’re having to move over the scanner, need to find another line of employment. The other annoyance is the comment “what’s this, never heard of it!” needs to be kept in ones head. If you really want to know search it out in the store after your shift and find out.

  36. moveorlose

    Ok, I work in this industry, let’s get some facts straight:
    1. Earth Fare- not locally owned. Started by a local who later sold it.
    2. Whole Foods 365 label is imported from China with false labeling saying it is certified organic. Watch the news clip here: http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0508/521743_video.html?ref=newsstory to learn about how farmers can simply say it is organic.
    3. Earthfare does in fact use SYSCO (and/or other similar companies) to fill the hot bar. Employees will tell you. They’ll also tell you they won’t eat the food themselves. I personally don’t like the fast food/trash approach they recently took with Itty Bitty Bites. They modeled it after McDonalds, complete with huge amounts of waste.
    4. The FBFC and Village Market are still locally owned and probably always will be.
    5. Going somewhere because it has the cheapest product is a Walmart mentality. I’m not passing judgment- consumers do as they will- but let’s not pretend it isn’t the same in the world of food. You want honestly local produce? Go to FBFC. They have an incredible, local-minded manager.

    $.02

  37. tacostacos

    Going somewhere because it has the cheapest product is a Walmart mentality.

    Or, it’s considered “reality” in a crappy economy. Not everyone has the luxury to choose to shop at more expensive stores. Don’t get all self-righteous on those who are trying to get by on a thin budget.

  38. Piffy!

    huzzah for moveorlose and all his/her wonderfully cogent points.

    [b]Not everyone has the luxury to choose to shop at more expensive stores. Don’t get all self-righteous on those who are trying to get by on a thin budget. [/b]

    Bullpuckey. That’s just a pitiful excuse. Americans spend more on entertainment then they do on food. The writer is not encouraging people to buy ‘expensive’ food, he/she is encouraging people to prioritize and realize that a few extra pennies for local produce will not break the bank.

    On a tight budget? Buy bulk and cook at home. You can eat an EXCELLENT diet on next to nothing. It doesn’t take extra money, it takes common sense.

    The notion that paying a fair price to local growers for food is “Elitist” is such crap.

  39. tacostacos

    So, “luxury” doesn’t just apply to money, it also applies to the time and opportunity needed to shop at these stores, pay these prices, and cook these wonderful bulk meals.

    I maintain, your elitist attitude is a large part of what turns many people off from natural foods.

    Don’t hate on people who choose for cheaper/easier options. Times are tough. Be happy for the choices you have the opportunity to make. Don’t judge other people who have to make difficult decisions.

  40. Piffy!

    [b]So, “luxury” doesn’t just apply to money, it also applies to the time and opportunity needed to shop at these stores, pay these prices, and cook these wonderful bulk meals.[/b]

    Sorry. If oyu have time to go to McDonalds and play X-Box, you can cook a pot of brown rice.

    [b]I maintain, your elitist attitude is a large part of what turns many people off from natural foods.[/b]

    So, by thinking it’s more important to buy food from the farmers in my immediate area than to buy it from multinational corporations makes me an ‘elitist’? Your hyperbole is showing.

    [b]Don’t hate on people who choose for cheaper/easier options.Times are tough. Be happy for the choices you have the opportunity to make. Don’t judge other people who have to make difficult decisions.[b]

    No one is “hating”. The writer you were responding to actually made a point to make a caveat for people’s economic positions.

    It’s ironic, though, that you add that bit about ‘not judging’ while you judge us ‘elitists’.

    Where’s that Iron?

  41. Piffy!

    let me try that again:

    [b]Don’t hate on people who choose for cheaper/easier options.Times are tough. Be happy for the choices you have the opportunity to make. Don’t judge other people who have to make difficult decisions.[/b]

    No one is “hating”. The writer you were responding to actually made a point to make a caveat for people’s economic positions.

    It’s ironic, though, that you add that bit about ‘not judging’ while you judge us ‘elitists’.

    Now, where’s that Iron?

  42. moveorlose

    Words I may use when describing myself: open minded, single parent, budget conscious.
    Words I would not use when describing myself:
    hater, self righteous, judging, elitist.

    I blame no one for the norms we have created. I wish more people cared more about food, where it comes from, and how it was handled. I opt to be on the side of change and progress. It seems the more I learn, the more disgusting the processing of food reveals itself to be.

    FYI the Food Coop offers a low income discount (if you qualify) and you can volunteer time working in the store and leave with a 15% off your whole order coupon to shop with. No one in town is cheaper than that. I also had a delicious $5 lunch at The West Village Market yesterday.

    “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”
    ~Roosevelt.

  43. tacostacos

    My point is that it’s wonderful that some of the people on this forum have both the time and the money to spend on making healthy dinners.

    Just be aware that those are luxuries that not everyone shares, and lots of people have to make compromises about their food.

  44. We’re in tough economic times, that’s for sure. We’ve been in hard times before. Here’s a link to a very good cookbook that you can get used for $3.99 plus shipping. It was written during WW11 in England , by MFK Fisher. “How to Cook a Wolf”

    http://www.amazon.com/How-Cook-Wolf-M-Fisher/dp/0865473366

    “May 22, 1942

    Books of the Times
    By ORVILLE PRESCOTT
    HOW TO COOK A WOLF
    By M. F. K. Fisher.
    Cook books are indisputably indispensable for the welfare of the human race, and they sell very nicely (Fannie Farmer’s ”Boston Cook Book” some 2,040,000 copies). So each year publishers proffer new ones of all sizes and varieties, from lordly an expensive tomes invoking the honored names of Escoffier, Vatel and Brillat-Savarin to cute and coy brides’ companions designed to aid in holding a husband’s love and winning a mother-in-law’s respect. Few indeed have any claims to literary merit. At least, few did until a knowing lady who signs herself austerely M. F. K. Fisher began conducting her one-woman revolution in the field of literary cookery. Mrs. Fisher writes about food with such relish and enthusiasm that the mere reading of her books creates a clamorous appetite. She also writes with a robust sense of humor and a nice capacity for a neatly turned phrase. Her third book devoted to food and its preparation is called most aptly, considering war and taxes, ”How to Cook a Wolf.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/01/18/home/fisher-wolf.html

  45. Piffy!

    [b]My point is that it’s wonderful that some of the people on this forum have both the time and the money to spend on making healthy dinners.[/b]

    No, actually your point was that people who say we should try to buy good, fresh local food are “elitists”.

    [b]Just be aware that those are luxuries that not everyone shares, and lots of people have to make compromises about their food.[/b]

    I’m not sure why you think anyone here has said anything otherwise. Other than you have backed yourself into a corner, that is.

  46. tacostacos

    Wrong again. I’m not saying that people who say we should buy good fresh local food are elitists. I’m saying that people who cannot understand why everyone who doesn’t place the same priority on this, pay top dollar for the food, and spend hours in the kitchen when they have other pressure in their life… that person is the elitist.

    I strive to eat well – by my own definition. I don’t stand outside a McDonalds and yell at people on their way in. Everyone has the right to make their own decisions regarding food. Not everyone has the resources to make the same decisions. Unfortunate but true.

    Now, getting back to topic – I hope that WFM will come in, raise the bar, lower the prices, and increase interest and awareness about the benefits of eating well. Some of their other stores have been excellent about working with local farmers and having community centers. Will that be true here? Time will tell.

    The only certainty is that Merrimon/240 will not get any easier to navigate.

    WFM is coming – they are here. Might as well hope that they know what they are doing.

  47. mobetter

    Greenlife uses sysco, earthfare does not
    funny how perception is sometime a new reality

  48. moveorlose

    Greenlife uses Sysco? Are you sure? Do you think Whole Foods will use Sysco?

    “I’m saying that people who cannot understand why everyone who doesn’t place the same priority on this, pay top dollar for the food, and spend hours in the kitchen when they have other pressure in their life… that person is the elitist.”

    @Tacostacos- I sense you DO actually care, and place priority on this subject, don’t sell yourself short! Many of us are too busy with our lives and our culture to focus so much on food and the time it consumes. Myself included. Sometimes we just get so far into a pattern that its hard to see other realities. Hence the popularity of Reality TV and why it takes me 3 days of vacationing to actually feel like I’m on vacation. Kudos to you for keeping an open mind. I hope you can feel less judged by those out there preaching.

    Do you ever go to potlucks? You can make one simple item, meet great people, and I bet you’d find yourself mingling and discussing this very topic over a plate of 16 different yummy foods. Maybe the coop throws potlucks?

    CNN article from today’s news:
    http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/05/17/pesticides.adhd/index.html

  49. SW

    I am a Greenlife lover in Chatt and I was initially bummed about the news. I also manage a small business. There is nothing easy about operating a company and sometimes we have to make decisions that don’t please everyone. Baskin Robbins has 31 flavors for a reason. Both companies stand for the right values, and we should be thankful to have either place to shop. We should be thankful for what we do have and stop wasting energy being so negative.

  50. Kriss

    I’ve never been in a Whole Foods store, but we were just talking about them on another forum I’m on, and a friend of mine who lives in Austin and knows them well posted:

    “Whole Foods is such a hypocritical organization. Their founding roots were very organic, natural, and live-and-let-live… Their original store on Lamar and 12th here in Austin was a nice little store that reflected the laid back culture of Austin. Even their initial expansions here in Austin were still very casual in everything they did… As they grew, they took on the big corporate mentality and all the trappings that go along with it. They still THINK they are acting in a natural and laid back way, but they have turned into every other corporate chain out there.”

  51. Piffy!

    [b]Now, getting back to topic – I hope that WFM will come in, raise the bar, lower the prices, and increase interest and awareness about the benefits of eating well. Some of their other stores have been excellent about working with local farmers and having community centers. Will that be true here? Time will tell.[/b]

    Lowering prices means less money for the farmer. Paying less for food is foolish and short-sighted if you have ANY interest in building up the strength of your local food-shed. Food is already ridicuously under-priced in this country. Put down the beer, smokes and x box and pay that extra fifty sense for the local kale instead of the organic gourmet corn chips sold by a subsidiary of Kraft.

  52. Trishna Devi

    I have been a member of the French Broad co-op since the day after I moved to Asheville 10 years ago. I believe in the co-op philosophy and though our co-op is not a perfect place, it has a truly local-minded approach. Please communicate with the managers at the co-op about what you want and need. You can even come to board meetings on the 3rd Thurs of every month and tell the board. The co-op has plans to expand and they really do listen to what you want. And WOW, the best bulk herb and food selection, hands down. Support local! Shop the co-op!

  53. hettierthanthou

    Good…Greenlife is snob central full of people who can pay $6+ for a gallon for milk! WFM has great food, especially the 365 house branded goods, at a normal price.

    I’m not hip enough to shop at Greenlife. Hopefully, WFM will change that!

  54. nancygaye

    Whole Foods Market is an amazing company and will be an asset to Asheville. They support so many wonderful programs such as Whole Trade and animal compassion to name a few. There are values to be had if you buy the 365 Everyday Value products and shop the sales flyer. Apparently Greenlife had financial reasons for selling and I am glad that they found an ethical buyer such as WFM.

  55. nancygaye

    Whole Foods will DEFINITELY not be using Sysco. I know that for a fact.

  56. Piffy!

    The above posts sure do read like SPAM.

    [b]Good…Greenlife is snob central full of people who can pay $6+ for a gallon for milk! WFM has great food, especially the 365 house branded goods, at a normal price.
    [/b]

    So you don’t think farmer should be compensated for their work?

    As has been previously stated in this thread, 365 is fake-organic, often from as far away China, and certified by the notoriously weak, watered down “USDA Organic”.

    Buying food from China does not help small-scale American farmers. In fact, it takes money away from them.

    http://www.kpic.com/news/health/20744939.html

    Paying LESS for your food, and buying it from tens of thousands of miles away is certainly a great way to continue to hurt small farmers in this country.

    The myth that paying a fair price for food (that is, one that allows a farmer to at least break even) is ‘elitist’ must be dispelled.

    In America, we subsidize food with taxpayer dollars to drive the small farmers out of business. Is this really the model we want in the future?

    [b]Whole Foods will DEFINITELY not be using Sysco. I know that for a fact[/b]

    Can you share these facts with us?

  57. moveorlose

    clarification: WF is falsely labeling their imported 365 brand with the USDA logo. Because it is imported from China it only has to pass the inspections of companies in China, and it can imported as-is, without USDA inspection. Ugh, I know. If you watch the news brief in an earlier post above you’ll hear about this. Excellent points, @pff. @Nancygaye, we can’t disagree more.

  58. andrewe

    My wife and I both worked at Whole Foods. During my time there I paid extreme attention to the inconsistencies of their approaches to business. They are a profit driven company that, similarly to other corporations, run under a code of standards for “consistent shopping experiences”. Much like fast food, wal mart’s, or ingles’. What this means for the asheville location is a slow re-standardization of the way things go. In speaking with other current and former employees, the status quo of takeovers includes the liquidation of as much as half the employees. It would also mean spotlighting WF products over current products. Think; Bakery, Dairy, Frozen Foods, and yes Produce. WF dealings with industrial organic producers like Cal-Organic contractually obligate the use of their products. Local bakery breads vs. WF in house baked breads?

    This may not be as big a deal as I see it, but as I see it this is a major blow to a large portion of local goods distribution. WF ceo John Mackey has self admittedly voiced admiration for the practices of Wal Mart, and as we all know when Wally World comes to town; small business packs up. Do your research, vote with your wallet.

    I’m going to get on organizing my sources.

  59. pff

    Corporate Organic is nonsense.

    At least Asheville is blessed with a very comprehensive food co-op and an amazing amount of local farmers markets. Many, many places in America dont even have that option.

    A savvy shopper should be able to get almost all their food from these sources for a good percentage of the year. There’s little reason to shop at any of these big chains.
    One of the nice things about Greenlife was Produce Manager Rob’s commitment to local produce and their practice of labeling the source of nearly all its produce. I doubt WF will even keep this one nice aspect of the store.

    GO TO YOUR FARMERS MARKET! GO TO A FARM!

  60. nancygaye

    To pff re: Sysco and WFM. I work for Whole Foods. I know who are suppliers are and what it takes to become one. Sysco doesn’t meet the criteria. Your reference to Fair Trade being a myth is speculation on your part. Can you share your facts regarding Whole Trade and WFM (i.e. fair trade is different from Whole Trade).

    As far as the 365 Brand/USDA labeling. I don’t believe it. WFM didn’t get where they are by selling faux organic foods. When you’re on top, someone is always trying to pull you down.

    Re: Squeezing out the local farmers/suppliers. Wrong again. No organization is more committed to supporting local suppliers than WFM. Again, I know because I work there. I have been personally involved in acquiring local products and suppliers. I see it everyday. In fact, it is one of our priorities for 2010.

    I’m sure that the co-op in Asheville is wonderful. I say if you like it, continue to shop there. However, it cannot possibly offer the variety of products as WFM. Let the buyer decide.

    I am personally very happy about the buyout and obviously Greenlife is as well. In fact, if all goes well, I hope to tranfer to the Asheville store someday.

    Just because John Mackey has some admiration for Wal-Mart doesn’t mean that he has the desire to run his organization in the same way. I don’t know if your statement is correct or not but I see no correlation between the two!

    In closing, is WFM a perfect organization? No. None of them are. I have worked many other places – some worse, some better but I have never worked for an organization that gives back so much and that is something everyone should be happy about.

  61. pff

    [b]Your reference to Fair Trade being a myth is speculation on your part.[/b]

    What I said was “Corporate Organic is a myth.”

    I’m glad you feel you are doing good in your position. I’m sure you are.

  62. andrewe

    nancy, while working at a whole foods just down the road I made it a “lunch break ritual” to walk the aisles of produce to check to see how many California’s, Peru’s, Honduras’ were available versus the local produce. Consistently showcasing out of state produce was the mode, this may be different here because of the abundance of local agriculture but I’ll just have to hold my breath. Not to nitpick your comment, but this whole “I hope to transfer to Asheville” craze that I’m hearing from all my friends at our former WF location is absurd. What I keep stressing to all of them is that Greenlife is a fully functioning grocery! This means they have all the employees they need, and if you are able to transfer then recognize that you are taking the place of somebody who already had the job but lost it to be replaced by a “weathered” WF vet.
    I just disagree with WF coming here because they consume the “natural” market. There are plenty of options in Asheville, but WF has a way of luring people in much like Wally’s. Maybe I’ll just stop crying wolf.

  63. nancygaye

    I’m sure that the current staff at Greenlife is wonderful, however, I am fairly certain that new positions will be posted. I don’t want to reveal my position but it is quite possible that Greenlife doesn’t have someone like myself at their current store. And, if you’ll reread my note, I said someday not RIGHT NOW. I lived in North Carolina for 17 years so I just want to come back home, that’s all.

  64. I live a block away from Greenlife but most often choose to go to FBFC or Earth Fare because of their friendly customer service. I would rather DRIVE to Earth Fare than walk to Greenlife to be snubbed. I was in retail & food service for over 10 years and being a cashier IS NOT A TOUGH JOB. It’s not just the cashiers and the managers who are rude, btw, but most employees. There are a few (three or four) nice employees but most look like they hate the world. How can a job like that be that bad?

    I was excited to hear about the WF takeover and my first thought was that I hoped they would interview the staff & decide who would stay and who would go. Clean house. It’s that bad. I have many friends who agree. I also hope Whole Foods will read these comments and hear us. I would prefer to WALK to a store near my house rather than DRIVE to one not so near.

    At the coffee service condiment area the other day, I asked an employee if they had agave, and she looked at me disdainfully and said “we haven’t had that here in over a year.” Well alrighty then. Like I say, I rarely go there, but when I do, I always encounter rude employees.

    When I first moved here a couple of years ago, I was appalled at the rudeness of Greenlife employees and called the home office to make them aware of my awful experience. Guess what? No one ever called me back! Ha Ha… Imagine that.

  65. Emily Standridge

    I am sad to see that Greenlife is not local anymore. It’s a disappointment. And, chill out about the cashiers. No one can be friendly 100% of the time. People have bad days. Be compassionate.

  66. nancygaye

    I made a special point of going to Asheville this weekend just to check out this new WFM store. I was in North Carolina visiting my daughter. I have to say …. it’s true! The cashiers are rude! I will tell you that WF will not tolerate this behavior. If management doesn’t cull them out the mystery shopper program will!

  67. To Emily and a few others defending the attitude of the employees of GL, I have had yet another really bad shopping experience at GL that irritated me enough that I took the time to write the following:

    My point was that almost ALL of the employees are rude. Not just the cashiers. If I had to assign a number, I would say 90% of the employees are condescending and snooty, and not just since the buy-out. I bought some makeup there the other day because it was 20% cheaper than at Earth Fare. I called EF to see if they would have it on sale in the next couple of months & they said they would not. The savings of $12 swayed my decision to shop at Greenlife.

    I went to GL & the 2 women who work in that dept. were behind the counter. I was in a good mood & happily asked if I could purchase the color I needed. While I waited for the employee to open the locked case, I was looking at rings displayed on the counter. I looked up in a couple of minutes & the makeup was on the counter in front of me. She didn’t check with me to make sure that was the color I wanted or even say “here you go” … just something cordial would have been nice AND both employees continued to talk to each other as I was trying to find a ring that fit. A ring got stuck on my finger & one of the women went to get some lotion, came back to the counter, handed me the lotion and not missing a beat, continued her conversation with the other employee! Never one word of thanks for shopping or to say glad to say, “oh good, you got the ring off.”

    I spent $25 on makeup! Although the price shouldn’t matter, I am trying to put this in context. I was not a mean, rude customer who wanted them to “fetch” me a $5 tube of lipstick that I could have accessed myself. Even when I was in the service industry and having a bad day and had a rude customer, I was still nice because the customer is just that, a customer …. a person! Employees should not be contemptuous. Period. I believe you should treat a customer (or any human being!) with respect. I was in the service business for a long time and I was NEVER NEVER NEVER rude to a customer, even if I was having a bad day AND the customer was demanding.

    Again, I hope that Whole Foods hires employees who are cordial so I can feel welcome in my neighborhood store.

  68. D. Dial – Well said.

    Being cordial not only helped my mood, but when customers were grumpy and I was nice, most often, they would leave with a smile ….. and return to shop.

  69. Emily Standridge

    I am sorry you had a bad experience, but your one experience does not mean that all the employees are rude. I have had only a wonderful experience. Sure, it helps to act cordial whenever you feel bad yourself and as someone in customer service I do this. But listen, not everyone has that ability. Try to stop thinking about yourself and think about how that person being rude or ignoring you might be suffering, honestly that will help you be more compassionate. And if that doesn’t work, talk to the manager. Or, call them out. For example, the anecdote about the makeup counter. I would have said, excuse me, I know your conversation might be important but I need assistance.

  70. J Effin Sweet

    I can’t wait for WF to take over. The staff at Greenlife are quite possibly some of the rudest people I have ever encountered at a grocery store. This may not be for all of them and I hate to generalize but the unfortunate truth is that 80% of them could be the nicest people in the world, but I’m gonna base my experience on that 20% that think that they are too cool to be nice, or that a current conversation with a fellow employee is way more important than to help a customer, or low and behold I forgot to bring a grocery bag and the latest rude checkout bisnatch wants to scold me for killing the planet. When I first moved to town I was sitting on the deck one day at Greenlife and a couple were talking about how much nicer the employees at Earthfare were, and how right they were. I’ll drive to S. Asheville to Amazing Savings before I’ll ever set foot in Greenlife again.

    my $0.02

  71. nancygaye

    Are you serious? We are supposed to think about how the WFM team member feels? I say check your attitude at the door when you clock in everyday! Try to stop thinking about yourself? Give me a break! We are talking work here, aka as a job. If you want to keep your job, than be nice to the guests.

  72. J Sweet

    I can’t wait for WF to take over. The staff at Greenlife are quite possibly some of the rudest people I have ever encountered at a grocery store. This may not be for all of them and I hate to generalize but the unfortunate truth is that 80% of them could be the nicest people in the world, but I’m gonna base my experience on that 20% that think that they are too cool to be nice, or that a current conversation with a fellow employee is way more important than to help a customer, or low and behold I forgot to bring a grocery bag and the latest rude checkout bisnatch wants to scold me for killing the planet. When I first moved to town I was sitting on the deck one day at Greenlife and a couple were talking about how much nicer the employees at Earthfare were, and how right they were. I’ll drive to S. Asheville to Amazing Savings before I’ll ever set foot in Greenlife again.

    my $0.02

  73. In reference to my post on June 6th, there was not just the one instance, but many times when GL employees were rude. I did call the corporate office to make them aware of two dreadful GL experiences, and they never called me back! The customer service department never called me back. Hmmmmm…. I try very hard not to have expectations in most all contexts, HOWEVER when I am a paying customer, I do have expectations.

    Having been in the service industry for so long, I know what it takes to make a customer feel welcome. You may have to smile and be nice when you don’t feel like it. Most jobs are like that. Say you have your own business and have an argument with your significant other, how long do you think you would stay in business if you were grumpy and sneered at your customers until your mood was better? There is something to be said about “putting a happy face.” Some studies have shown that smiling elevates your mood.

    Personally, I can get out of my own funk when I make people feel welcome and appreciated. I have given GL more than several chances, and after my experience the other day, I will not go back. Many people I know agree that there is a foul mood that pervades there. When it changes for the better, I will be a customer again. Until then, I will shop elsewhere.

    I do need to say this: I remember two cashiers at GL who were not only nice, but were exceptionally personable and friendly. I don’t think either of them works there anymore but they really radiated, and that kept me coming back for a while.

    Some people care about different things in the whole WF v. GL debate. My original comment was that when I heard the announcement about WF buying GL, I was excited to hear that we will have a neighborhood store that (from my personal experience) has upbeat, helpful employees and provides positive shopping experiences. WF is not perfect but when I have finished my shopping there, I am in a good mood. I like to smile and be happy. It’s fun. Everybody should try it.

  74. nancygaye

    Whole Foods is ALL ABOUT the shopping experience. The Guest Service team (cashiers) are the last TMs that the guest interacts with before they leave. This behavior will NEVER be tolerated I can totally assure you! If you have stopped shopping at GL b/c of this treatment, check back in 6 mos. are so after they have new store management. I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

  75. David

    Oh boy! more people hyping a major corporation as if it were somehow a good thing!

    What nonsense.

    buy food at your local farmers markets. Buy food that was grown in your food-shed (within about 300 miles). Corporate-Organic is a scam meant to keep you shopping at stores that buy from the Big Agricultural players around the globe.

    Stop “Shopping” and start getting to know your local farmers.

  76. Yep. Like I said, WF is not perfect. I mostly buy at farmers markets and get much of my food from my family’s farm. There are a few items I like to get (and most non-persishables) that are not available via those sources. So it will be nice to have a store nearby that I can walk to and get those things ….. and walk out with a smile on my face.

  77. nancygaye

    I guess employing 47,000 people is deplorable! Nonsense is when people make broad statements about “corporations” that they obviously know nothing about. If you were informed, you would know that buying local products is a major priority of WFM. However, local farmers cannot possibly offer the public the variety of fruits and vegetables that they want. Whole Foods has no desire to compete or put local farmers markets out of business. Quite the contrary. Asheville now has a Whole Foods Market and I (like many other people) are very happy about that. If you don’t want to shop there, that’s cool.

  78. dave

    [b]Nonsense is when people make broad statements about “corporations” that they obviously know nothing about.[/b]

    Funny. Aren’t you making broad statements about anyone who doesn’t like Whole Foods? Isn’t it possible that Whole Foods isn’t the saint you claim, and that people have had bad experiences working for them?

    I’m more likely to believe the digruntled ex-employee than the person who claims the company walks on water. No large company walks on water.

    Buy food from your local farms.

  79. travelah

    I don’t thnk there are any small companies that walk on water either.

  80. nancygaye

    Wait. I thought your soapbox was local farmers. Now it’s disgruntled ex-WFM employees. I never said I thought WFM was perfect. Yeck. I’ll even say it! WFM isn’t perfect. In case you haven’t picked up on this, I work for WFM. I will be the first person to say they aren’t perfect. Not even. I see disgruntled employees come and go everyday. But mostly self imposed. If you call in sick your second day of work, you may not be around long. But for the most part, it’s a good place to work and they give so much back to the community and non-profit organizations. That is not disputable!

  81. moveorlose

    I guess it didn’t take long for WholeLifeFoodGreen to change their minds on employee status. I had a house for rent and 90% of the applicants were people that are house hunting because they have been transferred to WholeFoods Asheville. The couple that rented the house are in fact WholeLifeFoods employees. They start Aug 1.

    Interesting. Interesting salary info as well. I still haven’t shopped there.

    Also enjoyed this recent letter to WF CEO:
    http://brucemulkey.com/2010/07/23/1022/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+BruceMulkey+(Bruce+Mulkey's+Blog)

  82. elizabeth

    The reason that many wfm empolyees are transfering to greenlife is because greenlife did not have certain positions in place that all wfms have. no one is being fired, they’re just creating more jobs within the store. oh my god what a TRAVESTY.

  83. Christi

    Update – Whole Foods is bringing in their 365 branded products in large numbers. There are 365 branded products appearing on the shelves at Greenlife in almost every category now. I’ve talked to a few local vendors who say the cheap out-of-region 365 products are already deeply cutting into their sales. Whole Foods is using “local” as a ploy to attract customers and then they bait them with the much lower priced 365 brands once they have them in the store. They are giving their store branded products the best shelf space. So now Whole Foods can can rob our community of even more money — it’s not enough that the store profits flow back to Austin, but they want 100% of the profit to leave our region. Whole Foods doesn’t really “care” about our local vendors – they don’t “know” our local vendors because the people really making the decisions are not local, whatever the Greenlifer’s in the above comments have been lead to believes, from far away, Whole Foods is now making the major decisions on what products Greenlife carries. I’m sure it won’t be long before they change the name of Greenlife to Whole Foods, as they should, because it’s not really Greenlife anymore. Very sad. We still have locally owned options folks – in Asheville we have French Broad Food Coop, that’s been here since 1975. And West Village Market. Both go out of their way to offer local products and they REALLY care about our local vendors because they know them personally — that is what local is all about — that’s something a corporate chain can’t pretend to be.

  84. Fluffy

    It kills me to read all of the negative comments about Whole Foods. As an Asheville native who now lives in the Triangle, I will tell you, I love Whole Foods. First of all, they have great customer service. Sorry, I have ZERO sympathy for unprofessionalism and petty behavior in any job. Leave your bad attitude at the door and pick it up on your way out. It sounds like Greenlife has its share of snarky cashiers.

    Second, the prices can be expensive but they have great sales. The meat always looks fresh and appealing. They have a fantastic selection of yogurts, cheeses, etc.

    Third, I do think that people who exclusively shop locally and make it a point to drive it home are elitist. Not only do I shop at Whole Foods, but, gasp, Super Target as well. I am not wealthy and don’t have the time or money to shop with a local farmer for every little thing I need.

    And guess what, it’s capitalism that makes this country great. Yes, we have our problems, but I sure wouldn’t want to live anywhere where competition isn’t the driving force. Whole Foods found a formula that worked and is successful. They are growing by leaps and bounds, so good for them. It can only mean more jobs and more competition for prices.

  85. Piffy!

    [b]I do think that people who exclusively shop locally and make it a point to drive it home are elitist[/b]

    How is keeping money in our economy, while giving local farmer’s an opportunity to keep their land out of the hands of golf-course developers and subdivisions ‘elitist’?

    Or- If that is elitism, what is wrong with that?

    Giving money to huge corporations that take money OUT of your community is populist?

  86. Fluffy

    Well, Caleb, I don’t seem to have all the free time you have to go to a local farmer for every little item I need. Why not support corporations who treat their employees well and are growing in these hard economic times? I actually do go to our local farmer’s market every Saturday to buy produce, etc. Plus, many corporations like Harris Teeter and Target give money to local schools. I think you can support your community in both ways.

  87. Tasha Moulton

    Earth Fare DOES NOT use SYSCO for their hot bar….and being that I have been working there for the past couple of months I would know!

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