FTC Seeks Public Comments on Two More Proposed Whole Foods Divestitures, Docket No. 9324, FTC File No. 071 0114 #547292-00050

Submission Number:
Betsy Hitchcock
Hitchcock Design
Initiative Name:
FTC Seeks Public Comments on Two More Proposed Whole Foods Divestitures, Docket No. 9324, FTC File No. 071 0114
BACKGROUND: You and the Justice Department have agreed upon an anti-trust settlement to prohibit Whole Foods, Inc. from unfairly dominating the premium natural grocery market in Boulder, Colorado.Your ruling has created the opportunity for a few of the founding pioneers of the Natural Grocery industry to re-purchase their original store, Alfalfa's. Alfalfa's was founded in 1982 and led the way to the growth of the industry and opportunities for companies like Whole Foods to become successful. In 2007, Whole Foods acquired Wild Oats which had merged with Alfalfa's in 1996. THE ISSUE AT HAND: Now, Topco is making a bid for the brand name, "Alfalfa's" which, if successful, would prevent the resurrected local Boulder store from using its own original name. This would undermine the opportunity for the new Alfalfa's market to be a fair and viable local competitor to Whole Foods in Boulder: contradictory to the objectives of the anti-trust ruling. MY APPEAL FOR FAIR COMPETITION: The new Alfalfa's market should be allowed to compete using the name and brand they started with. Now, the leaders who created the name and built the brand should be given the first option to purchase the Alfalfa's intellectual property. This is a landmark brand that should retain it's connection to the local landmark market where it all started. Our local community knows and loves Alfalfa's and natural products. The name is part of our history and is instantly known for its local roots. Whole Foods is a welcome addition to the choices we have when we shop for groceries but should not have a monopoly in Boulder. If some of our favorite sources of groceries are made unavailable to us because of "behind the scenes" business deals by large corporations trying to "own" the marketplace, we are wronged. Bigger is not always better--certainly not for consumers. We deserve choices. The stores we want to shop at should be given a fair chance to compete. Please give our local store and its founders (and many of their original employees) a fair chance. Don't let Alfalfa's name and identity be sold to Topco which has no connection to our community and no intent to address the essence of your original ruling: the avoidance of unfair competition and a virtual monopoly for Whole Foods in Boulder's natural grocery marketplace. Please let A-M Holdings bring Alfalfa's back to the people of Boulder. --Betsy Hitchcock (Boulder native resident, born 1955)