Hey everyone who secretly uses a trip to the grocery store to de-stress, or as a haven from intrusive nostalgia (ex: standing in the cereal isle to feel young and safe again), or all people who just like to eat good food: there's a new grocery store in town, in the virtual, metaphorical, and futuristic senses. And if you live in or near Silver Lake, Los Angeles, as I am very lucky and happy to, there's a new one in the literal sense.
The first ever 365 by Whole Foods opened on May 25 on Glendale Blvd., and I've done two weeks' worth of shopping there already. The New Yorker wrote up the store as a grocery shopping experience targeted at Millennials, but to me, the store is really more of Whole Foods' answer to Trader Joe's than any sort of Millennial trap. So, if you like shopping at Trader Joe's, as I do, I believe you'll also like 365 by Whole Foods, as I now also do. (Sidebar, directed at The New Yorker: It was my understanding that Millennials already did shop at and really like regular Whole Foods...? No? Just me?)
Well, I love and have shopped at Trader Joe's for a long time, dating all the way back to elementary school when I had no real money to speak of (save for a few dollars from pulling weeds) and would go grocery shopping at "TJ's" in Portland, Oregon, with my crazy uncle who was taken in by the shop's low prices and fine assortment of chocolates.
"Why are the prices less here without coupons?" I'd ask.
"Because they cut out the middleman, Becky. Just like Sam Walton did," I remember my uncle saying (not that I understood him).
Trader Joe's cuts out the middleman by selling Trader Joe's products. They aren't in business with outside food manufactures/vendors, requiring them to mark-up prices in order to make a profit themselves. 365 by Whole Foods is following a similar model by focusing on primarily selling their own brand, 365. The prices on these products, as well as the select products by outside brands also sold in the store, are so comparable to Trader Joe's that I spent the same amount of money at 365 as I do weekly at Trader Joe's without modifying the amount or types of foods I purchased.
Beyond the low prices, there are many great things about 365 by Whole Foods that actually separate it from its closest comparable grocery store. The biggest one, for me, is their selection of produce. Even the most diehard Trader Joe's shoppers will admit that TJ's produce is the chain's weakness. I often have to go to a second store after shopping at Trader Joe's to find the produce I need and/or produce fresh enough that I actually want to eat it. The produce section at 365, in stark contrast, is pretty much like the produce section at a regular Whole Foods, but with more items on sale. It's glorious.
The second time I went shopping there, I only bought fruit and veggies that were on sale, and I ended up with a colorful selection of eats for bargain prices (2lbs of organic local strawberries for $5, organic cucumbers for .75 cents each, etc.).
In addition to sale items, 365 offers a discount program, which you can join (via your phone while shopping!). Discounted items are marked throughout the store with little signs that indicate they're 10% off with your discount program barcode. Further discounts are available through the program website like old-fashioned clip-out coupons. All you have to do is click on the coupon and it's yours to use.
You can also activate "punch cards" for certain products. After buying ten of the product throughout the year, you'll receive one for free.
I mean, come on, that's a lot of great ways to save.
My other favorite feature of 365 is their in-house kitchen, which is made visible to shoppers through oversized windows. This is where they prepare hot meals (which you can order on an iPad when you enter the store and pickup from the kitchen when you're done shopping), the food for their Whole Foods-style salad and hot food bars, and the ready-to-cook chopped veggies, sauces, pizzas, and pastas, like the beautiful assortment of veggie noodles featured below.
As if all that weren't enough, the Silver Lake location also features an Allegro Coffee Bar — with items like $2 batch brew and a $3 Americano — and a vegan café called By Chloe that fits right into the, quite frankly, very hipster neighborhood. It's accessible through its own street entrance as well as through 365's produce section.
(The best thing of all about the store, though? They played "Lost in the Supermarket" by The Clash while I was shopping! I wonder if they have it on a timer. It was awesome.)
The next 365 by Whole Foods will open in Lake Oswego, Portland, Oregon on July 14, followed by a Bellevue, Washington location in September. For 2017 openings, check out this helpful map. If you can't wait a year to see what the future of shopping is all about, come to LA. The weather's always nice, and the home cooking just keeps getting better.