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Whole Foods Market - Upper West Side
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY
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The Opening of the Upper West Side Whole Foods Market

by Robert Abrams
December 31, 2009
Whole Foods Market - Upper West Side
808 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10025
212.222.6160
The new Whole Foods Market on the Upper West Side of Manhattan held an opening party on Monday, August 24, 2009. It was a very welcoming event with many offerings to sample. Among the items I tried were Azure Chocolat (www.azurechocolat.com), Twelve (a non-alcoholic citrus drink - www.twelvebeverage.com), Organic Pantry cakes (www.organicpantryshop.com), Ciao Bella gellato (www.ciaobellagelato.com), and Christopher Norman Chocolates (www.ChristopherNormanChocolates.com).

I have had the Ciao Bella gellato several times since the opening. The others I have not had again, but that is more because Whole Foods Market has such a wide variety of products. Frankly, I would be willing to give a second try to almost everything I have purchased at Whole Foods Market. Maybe except the strawberries in the half melon - the fruit is fine, and the concept and presentation is very appealing as a healthy breakfast, but the reality in New York City is that I don't often have time to actually sit down and scoop out the melon. Whole Foods Market sells pre-cut containers of the same fruit, which I have purchased repeatedly.

I used to be a Council member (equivalent to a Board member) of the GreenStar Cooperative Market in Ithaca, NY, so I am intimately familiar with supermarket operations and the difference between superior markets and not-so-superior markets. The Upper West Side Whole Foods Market is a superior market. The aisles are wider than most New York City supermarkets. This means that as a shopper you can see what you are looking for, and maneuver around without feeling claustrophobic or in a traffic jam, even when the store is busy. The checkout system at Whole Foods Market is brilliant - the lines move swiftly even at peak hours. The staff is both helpful and friendly.

It is true that, on an absolute or first glance basis, Whole Foods Market may be a little more expensive than conventional supermarkets (and Whole Foods Market carries relatively few mainstream brands), but it is important to remember that at least some conventional supermarkets try to manipulate your price image. For instance, many supermarkets will price bananas, and sometimes paper towels, below their cost or at uncharacteristically low prices. The shoppers are led to assume that all of the prices in the store are as low as the key items they use to form a price image, even though this is not true. The moral is that your total market basket price at one supermarket may not be as different from the total market basket price at another supermarket as they may appear at first glance. Plus, at Whole Foods Market, you are more likely to find what in my view are superior quality products: organic, non-high fructose corn syrup, local products and so on. If you are concerned about your costs, and who isn't these days, make sure to carefully compare prices across a wide range of the products you typically purchase.

I have not seen any dance performances in the store, but the recorded music often does make me want to dance, and I have seen a few, free jazz concerts in the very pleasantly lit eating area of the store.

So, as 2009 draws to a close, I can state without reservation that the Upper West Side Whole Foods has added an enduring improvement to the neighborhood.
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