Regular readers know that one of NBN’s favorite pastimes used to be reporting on Wild Oats in areas where they were competing head to head with Whole Foods. Louisville, West Hartford , and a few others showed what everybody knew, namely that Wild Oats may have had heart, but the rest of the formula for retail success was missing. See our reporting on the granola wars in West Hartford naturalbusinessnews.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/the-wild-wild-west-west-hartford-that-is/ and Louisville naturalbusinessnews.wordpress.com/2005/12/01/whole-foods-battles-wild-oats-in-louisville/ for some fun reading
Last November we reported on the Westport Wild Oats market shortly after the merger. It was a bit of a mess. Actually, it was a big mess, a huge old mess, especially in a wealthy town where it seems that every other late model German import is driven by a teenager. .
Well there’s still a lot to do, they haven’t even remodeled, but a number of visits this March reminded NBN about the merchandising magic that nobody does better than Whole Foods.
The produce, meat and seafood sections were transformed. And the only thing different is the merchandising, how products are displayed. Same produce racks but boy did that once upon a drab department shine. It’s the same with the meat and seafood cases. They way they stack sausages in the meat case gives a new meaning to feng shui.
And speaking of the Midas touch the sampling stations on Saturday included ribeye steak as well as oysters on the……well not on the half shell, but on the paper cup, but with a lemon wedge, too. Gotta give those Westport shoppers reason to linger.
Each time we were back the improvements were evident. Most recently the prepared foods section got the Whole Foods touch, and once again, it was remarkably different.
So the lesson for retailers like Safeway and Kroger is simple. Pay attention to more than just selection if you want the shoppers who will make your margins plump like an oyster.
We’ve heard that the major remodeling in Westport isn’t due until summertime, and our bets are that when the store really shines the dancing cow at nearby www.stewleonards.com will have a few less people watching his show. After all the Whole Foods magic has only just begun.