7 Real Estate Facts You Didn't Know About Whole Foods
Whole Foods Markets has infiltrated neighborhoods to become the nation's leading organic grocer. It's clear that the supermarket chain has earned its rightful status as a transformative retail anchor, but it has no plans to stop growing in the real estate arena. Here are seven little-known facts about the organic giant.
1. Whole Foods has 428 locations...and counting.
A stroll through an up-and-coming neighborhood (or one that's already arrived) will usually include passing one of those giant green Whole Foods Markets. Not surprising, as the chain owns 428 locations as of September 2015. But that number is clearly ready to climb. We spoke to a Whole Foods rep, who declined to share the number of stores in development. However, rumors have it that many trendy neighborhoods—such as Williamsburg in Brooklyn—will be seeing one very soon.
2. There's a "Whole Foods Effect."
What do Logan Circle in Washington, DC, Harlem and Detroit's Midtown all have in common? A new Whole Foods. The "Whole Foods Effect" is the (maybe) affectionate term used to describe the increase in—and validation of—property values in an up-and-coming neighborhood once a Whole Foods moves in. Whole Foods has boosted surrounding property values by a whopping 34%. Once Harlem saw its first Whole foods, a WeWork and Bed, Bath and Beyond quickly followed suit, signing leases nearby to accomade the influx of new and young residents.
3. 365, a new store for Millennials
This summer, Whole Foods announced plans to launch a low-priced chain that will hopefully attract attract younger customers. Named after its generic brand, the first five 365 stores are slated to open in hip neighborhoods in Washington, Southern California, Oregon and Texas in the latter half of 2016. The company says the stores will be designed with the specific purpose of appealing to millennials with a "modern, streamlined design, innovative technology, and a curated selection" of organic and natural foods. The 365 concept will act as a stand against the competitively cheaper Trader Joe's. Even with the upside, 365 still comes with the challenge of keeping rent and labor costs low enough to still turn a profit.
4. Whole Foods pick their real estate based on the number of college grads nearby.
It's a Whole Foods rule of thumb that a new location must have 200,000, mostly college-educated people within a 20-minute drive. Sure enough, with over 85% of residents who have at least a high school-education, the Bay area is not only a growing hotspot for tech, it's also a prime location for organic food. Last year, Whole Foods confirmed its second location in the college town of Berkeley.
5. Whole Foods built itself up on mom-and-pop health food stores.
Whole Foods built its empire by acquiring many smaller natural food mom-and-pop companies. Even CEO John Mackey says so, calling his company's acquisitions strategic. One such company was the Massachusetts-based Bread & Circus chain store. The store's aim was to pair healthy food with wooden toys; Whole Foods bought in it 1992. Whole Foods kept the Bread & Circus label, but not the toys.
6. The chain is based in Texas.
Whole Foods Market was founded in Austin, TX, in 1980, when there were fewer than 10 natural food markets in the nation. Owner and former vegetarian co-op worker John Mackey started off with a capital of $45k from equity investments. He believed that the quirky, bike-riding residents of a then-smaller Austin were the perfect clientele for the burgeoning natural food store.
7. The downtown Austin location is tricked out.
The Austin location has been designed like a multi-use complex with fun amenities to keep customers happy and in the store. Although several Whole Foods stores have liquor licenses, this one has a bar. Everyday from noon until 10pm, customers can stop by Bar Lamar to buy a drink on the spot or take artisanal wine or growlers—aka a fancy glass jug —of beer home. But it doesn't stop there, it also features a rooftop ice rink during the winter. Who doesn't like some ice skating with their granola?