An Open Letter To the Whole Foods At Third and Fairfax

by Amy Lindorff

Dear Whole Foods at Third and Fairfax in Los Angeles,

I’m trying this new thing where I only buy produce and four dollars worth of olive bar from you. We’re two weeks into this new relationship and things had been going really well. A friend told me about the feta stuffed olives so things were only going to keep getting better. You didn’t have much selection for grapefruit, but I can deal. I decided not to count each carrot individually and got in one of the two 12 items or fewer lines, waiting under a minute for my turn. This has literally never happened to me in your store before. In the last two years I’ve never not waited at least five minutes for service. Especially on a Sunday afternoon. I was so happy.

Then Yolanda ruined everything.

No checker has ever given me such a dirty look for bringing my own bag. In her defense, she had already opened a paper bag for my groceries – I mean what a hassle! It’s not like she can’t ever use that bag again all day! Especially not for the gentleman in line behind me. He’ll want to carry his 12 items to his car in his hands for sure. For a store that banned plastic bags and is all about up-selling your reusable ones, this seems like a strange attitude to have.

Then I had the gall to try to pay with a one hundred dollar bill. Now again, in Yolanda’s defense, that’s got to be annoying. But I know that Liz Lemon agrees with me that a one hundred dollar bill is STILL AMERICAN MONEY. You are a Whole Foods. This isn’t a farmer’s market stand or small Mom and Pop store with one register and maybe two weekly trips to the bank. Despite your best efforts to present as a local neighborhood place, your own website says that you have over 310 stores and brought in more that $10 billion in the 2011 fiscal year. Surely you can break my Franklin.

But it’s this last part that really gets to me (and to the aforementioned gentleman behind me).

As Yolanda rang up my produce she visibly became more annoyed. Yes, there was nothing in my basket that had a barcode. That’s because everything in your store that has a barcode seems to cost at least fifteen dollars. I was buying PRODUCE because you sell lots of organic produce and that was what I wanted. I also wanted a ton of feta stuffed olives because that is one snack which (unlike the whole thing of Oreos I ate yesterday) doesn’t make me feel completely ill after eating. As she put each of my fruits and vegetables on the scale/scanner thing, I began to worry about the bruising. I picked each of those items because they didn’t have bruises, but this wasn’t going to be the case once Yolanda was through. Tomatoes don’t come in a protective plastic container. They will break and leak juice all over everything if you slam them on to the scale and many other types of produce will not be quite as fresh once they have been manhandled.

When Yolanda took off in a huff to find me some twenties in exchange for the hundred (WITH WHICH I WAS PAYING FOR MY PURCHASES), my new friend in line behind me even made a comment about how careless she was being. “Whenever I see that, it just gets under my skin,” he said. It also seemed to be getting under my tomatoes’ skin.

It’s nice that you go to the trouble of putting up chalk drawings of farmers all over your store, but it would be nice to give you my money and have you give me produce that has not been fought with. Next weekend it might be back to the Larchmont market for Amy, unless of course I’ve slipped into some kind of sodium overdose come (is that a thing?) from all the olives.

Love, Amy

9/24/2012 Update: Raul and Solomon at this location have provided me with a $50 gift card so I can keep buying olives and, as it turns out, tons of coffee ice cream and pears. These are the things I buy when I feel rich.

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