Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hello, Whole Foods


Pigs really can fly, because the city of Detroit is getting a Whole Foods. Seriously. Corner of John R and Mack, taking up the space that was the Chase Bank, as well as that vacant lot between there and the parking lot behind The Ellington. Predictably, this announcement means a lot of complaining. Detroit is like that. Bless.

Three things.

#1 THE PRICE ISSUE. Whole Foods' 365 Brand products are generally pretty affordable and always of good quality. An excellent store brand that even the most die-hard cheapskate can buy regularly. Things like organic instant oatmeal for about $2 a box, half gallons of great-tasting organic juices for $3.99 a carton, massive packages of pasta for $.99, storemade hummus for $1.99 a tub, organic wheat crackers for about $2 -- the list goes on. The quality is outstanding, and if it costs a few pennies over another chain store's generic brand, then so be it. I can taste the difference, and so would anyone who gave it a shot. But instead, too many people get hung up on their expensive prepared food and some of the very pricey produce. You don't have to buy that stuff if you don't want to. Then again, it is easier to whine than it is to become a savvy shopper. Whatever. Go peddle your nonsense somewhere else, because you're wrong.

#2 THE SIZE ISSUE. Some people have wondered if 20,000 square feet -- the size of the planned Detroit store -- is too small. Again -- welcome to Detroit, where nobody knows shit about shit, but is happy to chat to you anyway. Fact: The Maple Road store, as in, the closest one to Downtown Detroit right now, is only 23,000 square feet. It's got everything you need. I should know. I shop there all the time. I'm thrilled to be able to not have to do a nearly 35-mile round-trip to buy my cheap, organic store brand dry goods anymore. (Well, I will be, in 2013.)

#3 THIS ISN'T REALLY ABOUT YOU. Even just the announcement of this store is an immense brand boost for the city. Bigger than many people realize. It's not just a grocery store opening. Whole Foods is one of the most upscale brands in the country. Having that attached to Detroit does things for this town's image on a national level that even the most well-meaning, community-involved, PR-savvy Detroiter never could. Detroit's growing reputation as a cool new frontier town/art center/fill in the blank is great and all, but that is not going to save Detroit alone. People with money are going to do that. People who shop at places like Whole Foods. Show those people that something like this could thrive in the city of Detroit, and suddenly, they're feeling a lot more at ease.

You don't have to like any of this, but then again, it isn't really about you.