Whole Foods pursues ‘higher purpose’ in nation’s capital
Whole Foods is doing that conscious capitalism thing again. The retailer announced that on April 5 it would launch a monthly fresh food market on the former campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital in an impoverished area of Washington, D.C.
Scott Allshouse, Mid-Atlantic regional president for the grocery chain, said the move was part of Whole Foods’ standard practice of pursuing its "higher purpose." The grocer plans to donate 100 percent of the profits it makes from the pop-up market back to the community.
Whole Foods will sell products from a food pavilion built by the city. The chain is also going to lengths to keep prices down so that locals will be able to afford the foods it is selling.
"I think people will be pleasantly surprised," Mr. Allshouse told The Washington Post, "because they’ve been hearing we’re expensive, we’re expensive, but they’re getting a can of beans for 89 cents, they’re going to get vegetable broth for $1.99. … They’re going to be able to feed their family for under 10 bucks."
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, who is running for reelection, sees Whole Foods participation as a victory for the area’s residents. While it’s true the grocer will only be at the site one day a month, it is an improvement over the current schedule, which Mr. Gray told the Washington Business Journal, "is once-every-never."
- Whole Foods to launch monthly market serving Anacostia, Congress Heights – The Washington Post (tiered sub.)
- Whole Foods to open once-a-month pop-up shop at St. Elizabeth’s – Washington Business Journal/WTOP
How much do you think consumers are influenced by reputation when it comes to deciding to shop at a retailer? Will corporate acts of social responsibility become more important or less to top and bottom line performance in the years ahead?