Last month Whole Foods opened a store in Brooklyn, NY (population 2.6 million) and a store in Lincoln, Nebraska (population 260,000). This strategy – opening in large metro areas as well as small ones – is no coincidence, and Whole Foods says that nearly one-third of its new stores will open in small cities like Lincoln.
When Whole Foods went public with its intention to open stores in what The New York Times described as “places where it was assumed that consumers have never heard of kale and wouldn’t dream of spending $6 for a pound of humanely raised pork,” investors scoffed, traditional supermarkets snickered and analysts expressed doubts.
Fast forward a couple years, and analysts say the strategy appears to be working (just look at the stock price!)
“Farmers’ markets were nonexistent 10 years ago in most places, and no one was talking about local food,” said Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb. “There is a whole new revolution going on around food now that isn’t limited to the coast. Consumers know more about food, where it comes from, what’s in it and the connection between diet and health.”
Fast forward again to dinner at my house tonight, where I will disappoint my wife by telling here there’s no chance Whole Foods is coming to Harleysville (population 10,000).