Whole Foods is nothing more than a grocery chain specializing in uppity food products that are marketed to those with income to burn. Let us ignore, for a moment that El Paso’s disposable income is below par, and look at what the reactions were from the city leaders and the local news media. Masked in the celebratory headlines was the relief that the city was now going to be home for a specialty chain of high-priced groceries. The sense of relief was all over the place but it didn’t last long. Almost immediately the city started fighting with itself online as those on the eastside and northeast sides of town demanded to know why the west side was getting the pig’s lipstick applied while they were being ignored yet again.
Lost in the arguments and the sighs of relief that El Paso was now up and coming because it was now getting a Whole Foods are some inconvenient facts that no one has brought up. Primarily the upcoming store is still two years away. In the highly charged and competitive grocery marketplace two years is a long time for businesses to close down or change their expansion plans because of revenue pressures heaped upon them by their fickle clientele.
As a matter of fact, although organic foods sales have risen historically, Whole Foods’ stock is on a rebound after re-energizing its marketing strategy by lowering the prices on its products in an attempt to reimage itself away from being pricy. Even with its current stock upswing, Whole Foods stock price is well below its 2013 high of almost $60 a share. This year, the stock price tanked at it lowest rate before rebounding. Although market analysts are excited about the prospects for Whole Foods many of the analysts focus their enthusiasm on Whole Foods expansion plans because the more square footage the more sales it can generate. This is important because with very narrow margins the only way to increase revenues, and thus stock value, is to increase the number of products it sells per period. The more stores the more product is can move is the thought. However, more stores equals more overhead. Is El Paso capable of sustaining that overhead?
Keep in mind that stock analysts are looking at the current upswing in price to cash out their stocks and the announcement of new square footage tends to raise the optimism resulting in higher stock prices. It is important to note though that announcing, building a Whole Foods is one thing and it is another to keep it sustainable over the longer period. Therefore, El Paso’s celebration may be premature.
More importantly is that the values espoused by the Democrat-leaning elite of the city mysteriously ignores the other inconvenient truths about Whole Foods. Whole Foods is in the midst of a battle between the employees and the management centered on the notion on whether to allow employees to unionize. This is a battle that has been brewing over for a few years now.
As a matter of fact, on January 20, 2013, John Mackey, CEO of Whole foods was quoted in an article by Global Possibilities as stating that a “union is like having herpes” when the question about unionizing was brought up. Last week, the San Francisco store employees at a Whole Foods started the latest employee movement to unionize a Whole Foods store. I wonder if the city’s progressives will support the unionizing efforts or quietly look the other way hoping no one notices that it is not all shiny under the motif that “it’s all good” in El Paso.
The other thing to consider is that the whole basis for the existence of Whole Foods is the progressive notion about sustainable ecologies and supporting the local farmers. Which brings me to the question about whether the El Paso shopper aka the taxpayers paying outrageous taxes to the city’s elite will care whether the tomato is from the local farmer or from South America when buying it for the enchilada sauce for dinner later in the week. When mashed up into the chile pods, the Whole Foods organic tomato will look and taste exactly the same as the tomato at the other groceries stores thereby forcing the question, once the novelty is done and over with will anyone in El Paso really care if Whole Foods opened on the west side first?
Probably not because even if it actually has a grand opening the grocery chain will likely shutter its doors once the reality that is El Paso hits it right between the “locally-sourced” vegetable isles.