|Agency:||Federal Trade Commission|
|Rule:||FTC Seeks Public Comments on Trustee's Proposal to Divest One Store under Whole Foods Market Inc. Divestiture Order; Docket No. 9324; FTC File No. 071 0114'|
Comments:My experience with shopping at "alternative" markets dates back to the mid 1980's. There was not much in New Jersey that even came close to what Whole Foods has become. To be quite honest the Wild Oats model was smaller, but not so different from Whole Foods early days. the choice uised to be a co-op style natural grocery in NJ there was George Street Co-op that was in the Rutgers U neighborhood, and there was(and I hope still is)The whole earth in Princeton right down the street from Princeton U. Bulk foods, and frozen delights and very seasonal organic produce, which one could forget about in the winter time. Hey it was all better than nothing. Then there was your average hole in the wall health food store where one could fing extremely expensive pre packaged foods by small companies that provided a treat in the sense that label reading was not needed because there was no added sugar, and disguised other yuck that just has become staple in the mass pre-fab organic corporate food that Whole Foods sells now. I moved to california in 1992 and much to my delight there were beautiful almost regular grocery size stores life "The staff of Life" in Santa Cruz, "the bread of life" in Cupertino, "food for thought" in Sebastopol, "Rainbow" co-op which was on 15th and Mission in SF and now still is swinging high and sweet at a location South of Market in SF and they still rock with the largest bulk section(including household products and HABA) it is vegetarian, and as organic as they can possibly be GOOOOO Rainbow! Also way out at the end of the line where the N Judah train meets the Ocean Beach section of SF is "Other Avenues" a small but worthy co-op that like Rainbow has been alive since 1970(interesting note so have I). What is my point? Why am I babbling on about this? The FTC missed the boat here. Whole Foods never had any competition. they always have had little to do with anything more than a way to sell the stuff that sold out. It does not make any difference if a Trader Joes opens where another Whole Foods could be. Who cares! whole Foods opened a store in Sonoma CA where I now live about 3 years ago. They had no bulk section, and a gang of fairly young employees who where very mixed up as far as "organic health crunchy granola foods"(and products) go. They put a huge Wine and Cheese section in that dwarfed the produce section ...it was kooky! Those of us in town who where eagerly awaiting an alternative to Safeway, and the ultra expensive local Sonoma Market banded together and BUGGED the hell out of the employees and managers of the store. Gradual compliance occured. we saw the winetcheese go bye bye, the produce section flourished and grew, a small bulk section was given a trial run and much to our delight grew to cover a large section of the store! We spoke and they listened! Now that is excellent public service and there is not many places that can or will compete with this. I try to forget about their dance with Wall Street, and who they crushed so many years ago. What I see is a place where there is a diverse group of employees that are treated well. They are friendly and accomadating to my family and me and there is a good warm feeling to the store. it is clean, not over lit, and there is a big mix of whole food,prepackaged goods, fresh dairy meat and produce, bulk grind your own almond butter, teas, and yes the cheese prevails and a smaller but well stocke wine/beer selection that would attract any wine country tourist. We are years past the TAKE OVERS, people "suffered" stores sold out...move on, there is no turning back. I am sorry for the community that will get a Trader Joe's rather than Whole Foods, it seems to me like an old grudge. Also, I know that there are several Wild Oats workers in San Anselmo CA who now have been working at Whole Foods in San Rafael for over 8 years now. If the FTC really wants to be a hero, go GET EBAY inc and PAYPAL!!!!!!! please!!!