Food News

10 Ways Whole Foods’ 365 Ups the Grocery Game

The new Lake Oswego market offers lower prices than traditional Whole Foods stores—plus a robot that makes tea.

By Tuck Woodstock July 14, 2016

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In recent months, Whole Foods has been trying to shake its “Whole Paycheck” nickname with its new chain of 365 supermarkets. Promising Whole Foods-quality goods at cheaper prices, the brand hopes to attract millennials (because, you know, we have no wealth) and other folks with limited access to high-quality groceries. The company opened its first 365 location in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood in May; its second store, which launched July 14, is located in Lake Oswego. With a median income of more than $84,000, Lake O doesn’t seem particularly on-brand for 365, but we’re nevertheless eager to have a chance to scope out this new style of grocery store. Here’s why we’re excited:

  1. 365 is cheaper than Whole Foods. Can you find lower prices at, say, Grocery Outlet? Absolutely. But 365’s prices are quite competitive with Trader Joe’s and other comparable brands—we’re talking $2.99 for a GT’s Kombucha and $0.60 for a peach. According to 365 president Jeff Turnas, it’s “bizarre” how many pallets of bargain-priced toilet paper and paper towels the Silver Lake location has sold in the last six weeks. 
  1. Two local restaurants have new 365 locations. Chic juice bar Canteen offers shoppers the maca smoothies and walnut taco salads that have made their Southeast Stark location so popular, plus 365-exclusive items like the acai bowl and almond berry bowl. Across the store, Bend-based Next Level Burger serves up decidedly heartier fare—think vegan sausage bacon burgers and brownie explosion milkshakes.
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  1. You can’t accidentally make $18 salad bar bowls. We’ve all been there, but at 365, there’s no need to worry about how much tofu weighs. Instead, shoppers can grab a take-out box—which cost $5.50–$9.50, depending on size—and pack as much hot bar and salad bar food as possible into the container. As long as you can close the lid, the price stays fixed, no matter how much it weighs. Challenge accepted.
  1. The guessing game is gone in the produce department, too. Most fruits and veggies are sold “by the each” instead of per pound—big or small, that banana costs 19 cents. For weighted items, customers can use a digital scale to pre-print labels with barcodes. So not only do you know exactly how much that conventional broccoli will cost, you also avoid being wildly overcharged when the cashier assumes you bought organic broccoli.
  1. A robot will make you tea. The folks at 365 are psyched about their partnership with small Canadian start-up teaBOT, a futuristic self-serve kiosk that allows customers to create customized beverages from a selection of 18 loose-leaf teas and herbs. (We didn’t try it, but we’re told it’s very cool.)
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Image: Molly Woodstock 

  1. Wine is cheap—and info is plentiful. The 365 wine department offers roughly 400 wines priced below $20, and maybe four wines priced higher. What’s more, shoppers can scan the bottles at an app-powered kiosk to access descriptions and ratings for each vintage. 
  1. Ordering lunch has never been easier. Patrons can use kiosks (that’s right, more kiosks!) in the middle of the store to order dishes like chicken bulgogi pizza and—we kid you not—tamarind chutney carrot dogs. An enormous screen mounted to the store’s back wall lets shoppers know when their orders are ready, eliminating the need to lurk awkwardly next to the pick-up counter. 
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  1. 365 stocks fewer products than Whole Foods. A typical 365 location caries 7,000 products, instead of the 35,000 found at an average Whole Foods. That means you’ll be choosing among 15 brands of olive oil, compared to 40–50 at Whole Foods. And that may not sound like a perk, but choice paralysis is real. (How many jam flavors do you really need?)
  1. The entire product catalog is available online. Shoppers can price-check remotely and even sort the digital catalog by brand, certification, diet, and ingredient. Looking for fermented vegan foods? There’s a filter for that! 
  1. There’s a Kale Oswego mural. That’s must be self-parody, right?
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