The San Francisco Chronicle has a story about how on March 10, Amazon-owned Whole Foods is scheduled to open a new "flagship store" there: "its newest location at 1185 Market St. is nearly 65,000 square feet, making it the city’s largest Whole Foods option for residents>. The store, the Chronicle writes, attempts "to represent familiar neighborhood brands, and its design takes the local emphasis a step further by taking inspiration from several San Francisco neighborhoods and landmarks such as the former Crystal Palace Market, the Tenderloin district and the iconic colors of the Golden Gate Bridge."
The story goes on: "It’s slated to feature more than 3,700 local products throughout its aisles, including organic mushrooms from Far West Fungi and salad greens from Plenty’s San Francisco farm.
"Besides its extensive wine offerings from Napa and Santa Cruz vineyards, there are more than 300 craft beverages with Barebottle sour beers, low-calorie margaritas from Laughing Glass and hoppy suds by San Francisco Brewing, all represented on shelf space.
"For those with a sweet tooth, find these local favorites in the bakery: croissant toasts from La Boulangerie, breads from Wise Sons deli, macarons from L’Artisan and hearth breads from Acme, Semifreddi’s and Firebrand.
"The wellness and beauty section will offer more than 50 local products, namely clean skin care line Cocokind and supplements such as green moringa powders from Kuli Kuli based out of Oakland."
- KC's View:
It is all well and good to open a flagship store ands beat your chest about it. But I think it is fair to say that there is a strong perception in the industry and around the country that many Whole Foods stores have lost a step or two over the years.
Now, there are a lot of potential reasons for this, and you can choose one or more:
Time takes an inevitable toll. Amazon's ownership has diluted the chain's commitment to core values. Covid-related stresses. Labor shortages. Supply chain issues. And I'm probably missing a few.
The thing is, most Whole Foods customers have no idea that this San Francisco flagship even exists. They only know their store, and whether it is meeting their needs or somehow lacking in how it delivers on the brand's value proposition.
I do know this. in a lot of places, for a long time, Whole Foods was a respected and even feared competitor, but that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. I think this is a situation that ownership has to address.