- Whole Foods will not open more of its lower-priced 365 stores, according to a leaked email obtained by Business Insider’s Hayley Peterson.
- 365 is Whole Foods’ chain of budget grocery stores with a special focus on private labels and lower prices.
- The seventh 365 store opened in Brooklyn in January 2018, and was first on the East Coast.
- I visited the store on opening day and came away impressed. In the last year, it became my favourite grocery store.
True to its name, Whole Foods 365 was a store meant for every day of the year.
Amazon-owned Whole Foods opened its seventh 365-branded store in the 300 Ashland building in Fort Greene, Brooklyn in January 2018.
On Friday, Business Insider’s Hayley Peterson reported that the brand will sunset, and no new stores will carry the 365 name. The company cited a diminishing price difference between 365 and regular Whole Foods stores as a reason for the change. The current stores will remain the same for now, however.
I toured the 30,000-square-foot store the day it opened to take in the sights and sounds. A year later, it’s one of my favourite grocery stores in New York City.
Read on to see how the Whole Foods 365 stores differs from both regular Whole Foods stores and its competitors:
The 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 is open earlier, at 7 a.m., while the rest of the store is 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 at the time.
Heading downstairs to the actual market, shoppers are given an easy choice.
The fresh produce section is green and unmissable to the left.
It has all the fresh produce you could desire, though I’ve noticed in repeat visits that some common vegetables are difficult to find at times.
Organic and conventional produce are mixed together, and there is a fair number of both. It has mostly commonly used veggies, however, as well as many different types of kale.
The section with fresh meat is enormous.
It is packed with all the non-antibiotic, hormone-free, no-nitrate meat you could stomach. Whole Foods’ emphasis on health and natural ingredients extends to this concept.
Though 365 Everyday Value is certainly the focus of the more wallet-friendly store, there are a number of other brands available, too.
The mix seemed to be about 50-60% private label, and the rest were other brands.
There are 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 appear reasonable. The private-label goods are at least on par with Trader Joe’s offerings around the corner, if not cheaper.
Each item is tagged with a fancy e-ink display showing the prices.
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 about $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 are bars of prepared foods to buy and enjoy, but they are nowhere near as large as what you’d see at a regular Whole Foods. There is also a cold case full of grab-and-go options.
The baked goods area is substantial, and it features breads and sweets made by local bakeries.
The sweets look especially tempting.
The beer area is 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 allowed customers additional savings and discounts on certain items, much like a traditional grocery store. This program has now ended in favour of Amazon’s Prime membership discounts.
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.
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