- Whole Foods 365 just opened its seventh store, its first on the East Coast.
- 365 is Whole Foods’ new chain of budget grocery stores with a special focus on private labels and lower prices.
- The new store is in a busy part of Brooklyn and competes with nearby Trader Joe’s outposts.
- I visited the store on opening day and came away impressed.
True to its name, Whole Foods 365 is a store meant for every day of the year.
Amazon-owned Whole Foods just opened its seventh 365-branded store in the 300 Ashland building in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. I toured the 30,000-square-foot store the day it opened to take in the sights and sounds and get a feel of what is sure to be a major part of Whole Foods going forward.
Read on to see how Whole Foods 365 differs from both regular Whole Foods stores and its competitors:
The new Whole Foods 365 store is in a recently developed complex sandwiched between the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Atlantic Terminal shopping and transportation center. Its sole neighbour in the building is a new Apple Store.
Signs inside the vestibule advertise the “Friends of 365” vendors you’ll find on the main floor. The cafe level will open earlier, at 7 a.m., while the rest of the store will open at 8 a.m.
The vendors are the most prominent feature of the first floor, and they’re clustered like a mini food hall.
To the left is Orwashers, a New York City-area bakery. Breads, bagels, sandwiches, and doughnuts are for sale.
To the immediate left of that is a Juice Press outpost.
Turn around and you’ll find a (vegan!) hamburger joint.
There’s even a Brodo stand selling trendy bone broth.
Toward the rear is a row of pour-it-yourself beer spouts.
These vendors replace the traditional Whole Foods prepared-food section, but there’s still a place to sit and stay a while in the rear of the store.
It’s also where you’ll find the Amazon Locker — the only Amazon reference I found throughout the whole store.
Heading downstairs to the actual market, shoppers are given an easy choice.
The fresh produce section is green and unmissable to the left.
It had all the fresh produce you could desire.
Organic and conventional produce were mixed together, and there was a fair number of both.
The section with fresh meat was enormous.
It was packed with all the non-antibiotic, hormone-free, no-nitrate meat you could stomach. It seems Whole Foods’ emphasis on health and natural ingredients extends to this new concept.
There were also some more unusual items, like this sumo citrus, that you definitely wouldn’t find at a store like Trader Joe’s. Otherwise known as dekopon, this cousin of the mandarin orange originated in Japan.
Though 365 Everyday Value is certainly the focus of the more wallet-friendly store, there were a number of other brands available, too.
The mix seemed to be about 50-60% private label, and the rest were other brands.
There were a few aisles of frozen goods. Though they are name brands, it’s usually the smaller organic brands, like Amy’s, that you’ll find lining the shelves.
Prices throughout the store seemed reasonable. The private-label goods were at least on par with Trader Joe’s offerings around the corner, if not cheaper.
Each item was tagged with a fancy e-ink display showing the prices. It was a little difficult to read, but that’s easy to change.
There were at least a few items I noticed that were at or near the lowest prices I’ve seen in other stores in New York, including Kerrygold butter that was priced at $US3. I had paid over $US4 for similar butter at a Key Food store nearby.
The store has a bit more personality than you would see at other Whole Foods stores, and it features a kitschy colour scheme and corny sayings. A sign that said “Kale Me Maybe” was put up for Valentine’s Day.
On the other side of the store, there were bars of prepared foods to buy and enjoy, but they were nowhere near as large as what you’d see at a regular Whole Foods. There was also a cold case full of grab-and-go options.
The baked goods area was substantial, and it featured breads and sweets made by local bakeries.
The sweets looked especially tempting.
The beer area was also large, with a number of both small, local craft beer brands and large national brands available.
Throughout the store, Whole Foods was hawking its 365 membership program that allows customers additional savings and discounts on certain items, much like a traditional grocery store.
Coming away from the store, I was impressed. The price and selection are by far the best in the neighbourhood, and maybe even the entire city. I imagine we’ll see some of those Trader Joe’s-esque lines at Whole Foods 365 during peak hours.
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