Everyone and their mom has been anticipating and gossiping about the opening of Whole Food’s “cheaper” option 365 Whole Foods. With the nickname “Whole Paycheck” it’s no wonder why this cheaper option has become such a hot topic.
It’s been almost exactly one year after Whole Foods announced it would be launching a new, cheaper, and more millennial-friendly supermarket model, the first 365 by Whole Foods store hosted a grand opening today. In addition to this first location, in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, two more 365 stores are scheduled to open later this year (in Oregon and Washington), and a total of 19 are officially in the works.
People lined up outside the store before it even opened, tote bags prepped. We’ve done extensive research and Instagram stalking and come to present you all the things we’ve learned about Whole Food’s newest venture.
1. It’s super high tech.
There are a bunch of cool new features in 365. For starters there are only digital price tags. There will be no printed signs in the new stores enabling the company to make price changes quickly and more efficiently. They will also be equipped with speedy checkout areas that only accept Apple Pay or credit cards.
And instead of wine guides or employees standing by to take food orders, stores will have iPads that customers can use to look up info or place to-go orders. And for all my tea lovers out there, there’s a My Tea Bot where you can customize your tea blend just the way you like it.
2. There’s a rewards program.
Yeah, i said it. There’s a rewards program, A Whole foods executive explained that the savings will pile up the more you shop. “You might get a reward of a free bag of lettuce for every 10 bags you buy” he explained. so it may take a couple trips but those savings are definitely better than the overpriced asparagus water.
3. Less variety and less employees.
So even though you’ve got rewards, fancy technology and cheaper prices you’ll be getting less face to face interaction. The 365 store in Silver Lake has about 100 employees, less than half that of the average Whole Foods location.
Shoppers can expect roughly 7,000 items in a 365 store, compared with a selection of 20,000+ goods at a typical Whole Foods. Not surprisingly given 365’s focus on low prices, there are more non-organic items in the produce section than in the normal Whole Foods.
4. There’s no deli or bakery.
With a focus on having a “hangout” atmosphere there’s more room for a causal restaurant and less room for a full fledged deli and bakery. Fresh bread, pastries, and such come from a regional supplier, not the store itself.
The Los Angeles location vegan fast-casual restaurant called By Chloe, in addition to a craft-brew bar operated by Allegro Coffee Company. This “hangout” factor is what is supposed to set 365 apart from its competitors. Whole Foods says that in the future shoppers may find bike shops, music stores, barber shops, pet supply retailers, or knife-sharpening services inside 365 stores
5. Yes, the prices are cheaper.
To offer the lower prices, Whole Foods has cut back on the building, design, and furnishing costs for its 365 stores. The prices are similar to that of a Trader Joe’s and their non-pershibales similar to their 365 Everyday value line in their normal stores. So far there haven’t been any complaints on the price. We’ll see if this is going to give TJ’s a run for their money.