Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market Inc.  sells only products free from hydrogenated fats, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

In 1978, John Mackey and Renee Lawson had a dream. They wanted to open a vegetarian natural foods store in Austin, Texas. So, with $45,000 borrowed from family and friends, they opened their first store and called it SaferWay (the name being a spoof of Safeway).

In the early days of their business, money was tight and John and Renee were evicted from their apartment for storing food products in it. They decided that since they couldn’t store food products in their apartment, they would have to live at the store. That was an adventure! Because the store was zoned for commercial use, there was no shower stall. So how did they bathe? They attached a water hose to their dishwasher. Now, that’s creative.

The Whole Foods Market Motto:
Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet.
The motto emphasizes that their vision
reaches far beyond just being a food retailer.

Two years later, in 1980, John and Renee merged SaferWay with Mark Skiles’ Clarksville Natural Grocery. And, thus, began Whole Foods Market. They had 19 employees, some of whom are still with the store today.

Today, Whole Foods Market has 487 U.S. stores.

On May 25, 1981, Austin, Texas, was devastated by flood, ruining the entire inventory and most of the store’s equipment. It was the worst flood Texas had seen in 70 years. With a loss of about $400,000, and no insurance, the business was in serious trouble. By the goodness of God and with the help of customers, neighbours, and staff, the store was cleaned up, repairs were made and Whole Foods Market reopened just 28 days later.

The Whole Foods Market on Bowery in Manhattan,  is the largest grocery store in New York City.

In 1984, Whole Foods Market began expanding outside of Austin, with stores in Houston and Dallas. Their next purchase was the Whole Food Co. in New Orleans in 1988. In 1989, they expanded to the West Coast with a store in Palo Alto, California.

Throughout the 1990s, Whole Foods Marketing continued to open new stores while acquiring other natural foods chains: Wellspring Grocery of North Carolina; Bread & Circus of Massachusetts and Rhode Island (banner retired in 2003); Mrs. Gooch’s Natural Foods Markets of Los Angeles; Bread of Life of Northern California; Fresh Fields Markets on the East Coast and in the Midwest; Florida Bread of Life stores; Detroit-area Merchant of Vino stores; Nature’s Heartland of Boston; and, Allegro Coffee Company. The 100th Whole Foods Market store was opened in 1999 in Torrance, California.

In April 2019, Whole Foods opened its largest store in the Southeast in Midtown Atlanta. With three levels, a burger restaurant, an Allegro Coffee shop and a rooftop terrace, it’s a shopper’s paradise.

In 2002, the company continued its expansion in North America and opened its first store in Toronto, Ontario and in 2003, acquired Select Fish of Seattle. 

Downtown Austin was the next stop for Whole Foods Market, with an 80,000 sq ft flagship store opening in 2008. The company’s headquarters moved into offices above the store.

In June 2017, Amazon purchased
Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion. 
Amazon Prime customers will be able to order groceries online and then pick them up in-store for free.

Humane Treatment of Animals
Whole Foods created the Animal Compassion Foundation in January 2005, a separate nonprofit organization, to help other producers evolve their practices to raise animals naturally and humanely. Animals and fowl treated with antibiotics or antimicrobials, cloned, genetically modified, or not allowed medical treatment when necessary, are not allowed in the Whole Foods Market stock.

Whole Foods Market has been included in Fortune magazine’s annual list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For”every year since the list’s inception in 1998, most recently at number 44 in 2014.  British trade magazine The Grocer named it the “World’s Greatest Food Retailer” in 2006.

Whole Foods stopped offering plastic grocery bags 
on Earth Day 2008.
The company saved 150 million bags

in roughly the first year after.

Gloria Sauvé
Communications and Marketing

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