So much for new stores with tattoo parlors!
Even back in 2015, Whole Foods knew it had to do something. The brand, though popular in certain circles, had garnered a reputation as maybe being a tad too upmarket for its own good and was looking for a way to bring in more average (and younger millennial) shoppers. The solution: A new style of slimmed down and less expensive store called Whole Foods 365. The first iteration opened in 2016 in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Even as recently as a year ago — months after Whole Foods sold to Amazon — the first East Coast store opened in Brooklyn, and at the time, 16 more locations were either announced or under construction.
And then there were none. According to Yahoo Finance, last week, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey sent out an internal email announcing that though the existing 12 Whole Foods 365 stores would remain in existence, all plans for any new locations had been scrapped. “As we have been consistently lowering prices in our core Whole Foods Market stores over the past year, the price distinction between the two brands has become less relevant,” the email purportedly stated. “As the company continues to focus on lowering prices over time, we believe that the price gap will further diminish.”
A Whole Foods spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo, “Learnings and innovations from 365 have been incorporated into Whole Foods Market and the company will continue to innovate and experiment.”
Importantly, though the Whole Food 365 stores will cease, Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value private label brand — which predates the stores of the same name — will not only live on but will likely see more prominent usage both in store and online. Over a year ago, analysts were already predicting that Amazon might lean on this value-priced brand as a way to leverage Whole Foods’ name at a consumer-friendly price.
More recently, the Wall Street Journal recently suggested that Amazon was looking to significantly ramp up its expansion of Whole Foods Market stores in an effort to reach more customers. Seeing as Whole Foods 365 was being expanded during a period of relative stagnation for the larger Markets, it’s easy to see how Amazon wouldn’t want to be growing two parallel brands at the same time. And so the Whole Foods 365 experiment has apparently come to an end… tattoo parlors and all.