I was interested to read this article on the NY Times this morning, which depicts Whole Foods' attempt to keep pace with the economy by billing itself as a bargain place to shop. Just yesterday we were at Whole Foods looking for rennet to make cheese (note to other rennet seekers in the Washington DC/northern Virginia area: we did find it, for $1.89 per 8 tablets, at the P St. NW Whole Foods after unsuccessfully trying a couple of other grocers in DC), and while at the checkout, I noticed a sign in the window depicting a sundae made from frozen strawberries, ice cream, and shortcake, which read "So affordable, now you can have sundaes even on Mondays." I laughed and pointed it out to Matt, who had noticed several other check-out-our-low-low-prices signs throughout the store as well. As the people in the article point out: Whole Foods can claim that you get what you pay for, because their items typically are very high-quality. We also love their generous samples ("Whole Meals"), though those were disappointingly absent from our latest foray. But a bargain, they're not.
Unfortunately, without a local co-op, they're our only option for things like bulk grains, and possibly certain specialty items like rennet; ditto for the homeopathic remedies we're coming to love. So we'd hate to see them fold. But their prices on these kinds of items are higher than we used to pay at a co-op, and Whole Foods doesn't have price-lowering options like purchasing a membership or working for a discount. Their prices on items like organic produce are almost always higher than comparable items at Trader Joe's or even a place like HyVee or Safeway. So unfortunately, this latest marketing attempt is pretty transparent as just that.