Whole Foods is home to an endless supply of healthy products, with a zero-tolerance policy for artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats. Their extensive product offerings include items to support most diets and lifestyles. However, after a trip to Whole Foods' bakery, bulk section, deli, salad bar and ice cream case, it is easy for your jaw to drop while watching the screen at the checkout counter. "How did I spend so much money?" you might ask, as the items add up.  However, you will not face this problem at the new 365 by Whole Foods markets.

What is 365?

Olivia Gubel

In May 2016, Whole Foods launched its first 365 by Whole Foods location in trendy Los Angeles neighborhood Silverlake.  With the goal of making "healthy living easy," Whole Foods wanted to provide products that met their high-quality standards at a lower cost. Since then, the brand has opened nine 365 stores, five of which are in California, and plans to open 14 more locations in the near future

My Experience

Olivia Gubel

365 first opened in my neighborhood, Silverlake. I admit I was skeptical, but after fifteen minutes inside the store, I was pleasantly surprised, even a little bit shocked. The store keeps the luxe, yet granola Whole Foods vibe, but feel is a little more minimalistic. There are fewer products, yes, but they still carry just about everything I am looking for. The brands they sell are also sold at Whole Foods stores, so, although there are fewer brands available, the quality standards remain.  Brands like Food For Life, Bob's Red Mill, Engine 2, and Amy's are available, but the majority of the shelves are stocked with the 365 Everyday Value brand, which focuses on providing the same great products at lower prices. They also still have a bakery, freezer section, and salad bar. Just imagine a lighter, more condensed Whole Foods. 

I was honestly shocked by the prices. Their 365 Everyday Value butter and eggs are less expensive than the same items at Ralphs or Vons. As a vegan, I buy a lot of produce, and I can honestly say that the fruits and vegetables are just as good as those sold at Whole Foods or any farmers market. And don't even get me started on the prices of the organic produce! They always have in-season fruit on sale at unbeatable prices. And trust me, the strawberries are never mushy, nor the blueberries sour. They consistently sell the best watermelon I have ever tasted.  I consider my standards very high when it comes to fruit, and I know I can trust their produce because it is usually from the same brands that the traditional Whole Foods Markets carry.

How Much Am I Really Saving?

Olivia Gubel

Just like Trader Joe's, which sells mostly private label products (their own brand), they can afford to sell 365 products for lower prices because they are not distributing proceeds to the original brand. Additionally, fewer supplies mean they order a larger quantity of each product. For example, at a normal Whole Foods Market, they may have 20 brands of tortillas stocked, meaning they have to buy less of each brand. But when a company buys a lot of product from a single brand, they get a better deal, like when you buy in bulk. Because the store gets a better price, you do too.

When I used to shop at Whole Foods, the bill would easily soar over $300 if I wasn't careful. At 365, I can buy everything I need for a week, including breakfast, dinner, and snacks for three people, for under $100 every time. Even when I impulse buy, my total never creeps above $120. I rarely see a single product over $4, which means you can get a great haul at an incredible price.

What's the Catch?

Olivia Gubel

As tempted as I am to say that there is no catch, there is one simple reason that 365 is SO much cheaper than Whole Foods: selection.

While I usually leave Trader Joe's frustrated and on the way to another store, I almost always leave 365 having found what I needed, just sometimes from a different brand with the same quality and ingredients. That being said, you're not going to be able to find over a hundred non-dairy milk products or every single brand of vegan cheese. If you're looking for something uber specific, you might have to make an additional trip to Whole Foods. Their salad bar is also smaller, and they don't have a deli. While still present, their bakery is also cut down. However, I normally find the selection sufficient.

Olivia Gubel

So ultimately, 365 is like a dream I didn't know I had, come true. Sure, if I had an unlimited grocery budget, I would definitely shop at Whole Foods, but 365 is pretty incredible when you factor in the price, value, quality and amenities that most grocery stores just don't offer.