Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFM) touts itself as an upscale grocer, and charges the prices to prove it. It's not for nothing that its nickname is Whole Paycheck, where items can cost double the price of what's sold at Kroger (KR) or Walmart Stores Inc. (WMT) .
With that in mind, you might think that the Whole Foods in Tribeca, one of New York City's priciest neighborhoods, would be a gleaming example of a premier grocer serving a largely well-to-do customer base. Here in this lower Manhattan locale, the median annual income is nearly $120,000 and median home sales go for $2.3 million, according to Point2Point Homes. Many of the neighborhood's residents are college-educated professionals.
But when we visited the Tribeca Whole Foods store two days in a row recently, we found a mess—debris on the floor, shelves not fully stocked and items displayed helter-skelter. Meanwhile, the Burger Bar, which sells made-to-order fast food, was slow-moving and disorganized.
With a show like this, it's no wonder that Whole Foods, whose stock price over 52 weeks has swung between $27.67 and $43.84, has been struggling mightily. Now that the super-efficient and sleek Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) has bid to buy the grocer for $13.7 billion, perhaps it can clean up Whole Foods' act in Tribeca and elsewhere.
Whole Foods' shares fell 0.1% to $42.12 by Monday's close.
Here's what we found on our visits.
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Editors' pick: Originally published June 26.
Would you pay $3.49 a pound for spinach swimming is this bin of melted ice and discarded leaves?
What are those snakelike things on the floor below the disheveled display? Do they have to do with the "Wet Floor" on the sign?
We wondered how long that fruit had been under the counter.
Boxes are so jumbled, it may take an employee's help to find your brand.
This spilled fruit showed up in an aisle away from the produce section. When a customer pointed it out, an employee cleaned it up right away.
While the sign advertises the availability of whole wheat buns, there's no way to select them on the kiosk.
The hardworking cook is surrounded by lots of stuff. No wonder it took more than 20 minutes for a burger and fries order, when it was supposed to be ready in 10 to 15 minutes.
When a customer said she couldn't wait any longer, had to get back to work and needed a refund, the Burger Bar staff directed her to customer service on the other side of the large store.
The meal was tasty and came as advertised. The day before, though, the burger was missing the slice of tomato that was shown in the description on the kiosk.
Also, it's best to get takeout, because the seating area doesn't get bussed and cleaned right away, which means there were discarded wrapping, boxes, bags and cups. Glad the weather's nice, right?
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