We went to Whole Foods' answer to Trader Joe's to see who does it better -- here's the verdict

Business Insider/Dennis GreenThe entrance to the market in the new 365 store.
  • 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.

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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.

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The vendors are the most prominent feature of the first floor, and they’re clustered like a mini food hall.

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To the left is Orwashers, a New York City-area bakery. Breads, bagels, sandwiches, and doughnuts are for sale.

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To the immediate left of that is a Juice Press outpost.

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Turn around and you’ll find a (vegan!) hamburger joint.

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There’s even a Brodo stand selling trendy bone broth.

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Toward the rear is a row of pour-it-yourself beer spouts.

Business Insider/Dennis Green

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.

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It’s also where you’ll find the Amazon Locker — the only Amazon reference I found throughout the whole store.

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Heading downstairs to the actual market, shoppers are given an easy choice.

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The fresh produce section is green and unmissable to the left.

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It had all the fresh produce you could desire.

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Organic and conventional produce were mixed together, and there was a fair number of both.

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The section with fresh meat was enormous.

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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.

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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.

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Though 365 Everyday Value is certainly the focus of the more wallet-friendly store, there were a number of other brands available, too.

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The mix seemed to be about 50-60% private label, and the rest were other brands.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The baked goods area was substantial, and it featured breads and sweets made by local bakeries.

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The sweets looked especially tempting.

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The beer area was also large, with a number of both small, local craft beer brands and large national brands available.

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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.

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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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