Friday, August 23, 2013

Whole Foods: Twilight Zone?

In Madison, Whole Foods is relatively new (read: it could have been here for 10 years but wasn't around from birth SO I consider it new haha).  There is only one location and I have always heard two different things about it.  Half of what I have heard is that the food is high quality and the other half is it is too expensive! 

I had been browsing the Krazy Coupon Lady and Organic Deals match ups for a while.  Every once in a while, a few items would be free or nearly free.  It was never enough really good deals to warrant a special trip. 

My initial push to check it out were the deals on the Ibotta app.  They had organic chicken nuggets and fish sticks (not organic obviously but wild caught I believe) from the Ian's brand which were eligible to earn $1.50 for purchasing!  Unfortunately, they only had the jumbo $10 bags of each so I passed. 

Then I saw some coupons for Applegate meats.  If you don't know, this is a line of meats, some organic, some "natural."  They are pretty reasonably price.  Stacking a $1 Whole Foods coupon and a $0.75 manufacturer coupon, I paid $4.24 per family pack of ham and $4.64 per family pack of smoked turkey.  I chose the "naturals" version because the budget has been a bit tight lately.  The organic pack has about half the meat for the same price so still a good deal!

From my brief searching, only one item potentially beat the price of Woodman's.  The 365 Whole Foods organic whole peeled 28 ounce can of tomatoes was $1.99.  According to my spreadsheet, Muir Glen organic 14 ounce whole peeled tomatoes are $1.79.  Not bad. 

I think I will be back every once in a while when there is a really good deal.  The price of everything else was really high.  On the plus side, the produce was excellent.  There was organic corn for $0.80 an ear and made a lovely Mexican esquites dish (I hope I didn't totally fumble that!).  Roast or boil four ears of corn, cut off the kernels.  Add a little mayo, butter, lime juice, cheese (I used cheddar but they recommend cotija), and chili powder!  Salt and pepper to taste, too, of course.  And the secret weapon - a little chopped jalapeno.  WOW - delicious!  The fresh, organic corn made such a difference. 

Okay, you may be wondering why I would have said Whole Foods was like the Twilight Zone!  First of all, there were no carts inside!  I had to wander around like an imbecile trying to figure out something as simple as the cart location.  Luckily I found an empty one in the middle of the store.  On my way out, I saw they were by the door OUTSIDE.  Hm... makes sense but seems a little inconvenient if it's raining or snowing. 

If I looked at a shelf for more than 1.5 seconds, which I did a lot of doing mental price comparisons, someone asked if I needed help.  Wow.  This happened about 4 times in 30 minutes.  When I asked which item a price tag referred to, the butcher ran right over to help and insisted upon looking in the back to see if any more were in stock.  This is a FAR cry from Woodman's or Copp's where you have to hunt an employee down.  If you are lucky enough to find one, chances are they are busy or don't know the answer to your question.  I have had some good customer service at both of the other stores, but Whole Foods immediately set the bar very high. 

Twilight Zone or good corporate policy?  I'm not sure but it was strange to have employees that were actually nice! And helpful!  Without arm twisting!  They have a great selection of high quality foods and I will be back every once in a while to take advantage of sales, and enjoy the great customer service while I'm there. 

What are your thoughts?  What do you love from Whole Foods?  Or why don't you shop there? 

Enjoy the end of summer!

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