I had to run a few errands and/or wanted to stall on starting commenting on student essays, so on my way home, I swung by the new Whole Foods in Ann Arbor– or, as the web site says, Cranbrook, which is really the name of a shopping center on the other side of Ann Arbor. It’s a good location for the chain because it’s close to lots of upscale west AA neighborhoods, and it’s also reasonably close to Saline and Dexter. But since we live completely on the other side of town, this visit to the Food (W)Hole was more or less just a field trip.
So, what’s the new store like? Why, it’s like a grocery store–or, to be more specific, it’s another location for one of the “world’s leading natural and organic grocer and we’re passionate about healthy food and a healthy planet,” a place that is “lucky to have a whole bunch of smart, passionate people doing incredible things in areas like organics, supporting local growers, green practices, fair trade, micro-lending and all kinds of food related stuff.” Pretentious? Sure. Am I a loyal customer? You bet.
The new store is pretty much the same as my regular Food (W)Hole: the usual large seafood selection and grass-fed or otherwise organic meat selections, supplements and herbal things, a coffee bar area, etc. Besides the layout (the space is much more narrow and long), I noticed at least four differences with this new store:
- An even larger prepared/take away food section, and one that features a special gelato and ice cream counter. This strikes me as kind of funny because this strip mall also features an Old Country Buffet. So now you can fatten up either for cheap or for not cheap.
- A sushi counter, where you can get fresh (and not packaged earlier that day) sushi. I suspect Will will require a visit.
- A wine/beer/cheese tasting bar. I’m not quite sure about this arrangement (I didn’t ask and I wasn’t around long enough to find out), but it appeared to me that you could buy a glass of wine or a beer on tap and from our own Arbor Brewing Company (made in Ypsilanti), and then perhaps continue your shopping. This is what this video says about a store that opened in Rochester Hills, MI with a similar wine bar arrangement.
- A rule against taking photographs: at the store’s entrance and next to the “no smoking” and “no roller blades” signs was “no photography.” Now, perhaps this is a policy at all Whole Foods, as this photo and the discussion about it suggests. One of the reasons discussed here says this is so other stores can’t steal design ideas, but it seems pretty easy to get around this. I mean, just go in and look around.
In any event, I was feeling naughty, so while sitting at the coffee bar at the front of the store, I took this picture of the store behind me with the little camera on my laptop:
Remarkably revealing, isn’t it?
The only down-side of the store for me was the wifi access in there was very spotty, but I suspect that’s something they will work out later.
By the way, I took the picture at the top of this entry after I left. How about my timing in capturing the transportation used by a typical Food (W)Hole customer?
Oh, and while I’m at it, I came across this pretty cool set of grocery store pictures when poking around on Flikr for this post.