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The New York Times this morning reports on how Whole Foods has succeeded in its effort to bring its format to smaller cities in the US.

"Two years ago," the Times writes, "when Whole Foods announced that it wanted to expand to 1,000 stores from a little more than 300 and open in places where it was assumed that consumers had never heard of kale and wouldn’t dream of spending $6 for a pound of humanely raised pork, some investors scoffed. Its traditional grocery store competitors snickered at the strategy. And even those on Wall Street enamored with the chain’s success expressed doubts that its forays inland into smaller, less urban markets would succeed."

The story continues: "Like most grocery chains, Whole Foods does not release sales data on individual stores. But two years after disclosing its plans, it turns out that more shoppers do want, say, soda pop with no artificial coloring and flavoring and specialty meats, more than the experts had banked on. Cities like (Boise, Idaho), with its 212,000 residents, many of them college students and migrants from the cities where Whole Foods raised the bar on the grocery business, are embracing the company with an enthusiasm that has confounded the naysayers, propelled its stock price to heady highs and surprised even its executives."
KC's View:
It isn't just Whole Foods. The story notes that the company's strategy has energized the competition, as well, with more companies improving their profile and taking advantage of the fact that for a lot of people, food can be aspirational … which is exactly what Whole Foods is tapping into.