The new Whole Foods Market in Englewood opened Wednesday to much fanfare… As much as we don’t like to make Whole Foods the poster child for everything Conscious Capitalism, it’s moments like this that make it clear why they’re the leaders of the movement.
A couple of years ago I visited the Whole Foods in Detroit and it was a moving, inspiring experience, a community experience. People hung out outside drinking coffee and chatting, and called out to neighbors as they arrived. Moving through the store I saw items on the shelves that were the usual suspects, but also new local and ethnic brands I’d never seen before. At the food bar, strangers helped each other navigate the honor system. One man asked the woman next to him, “You mean I just take it myself?” Being trusted to serve yourself stood in stark contrast to paying for gas through a tiny slot in a bullet proof window not far away. Whole Foods had succeeded not only in engaging the community in planning for and launching the store in way that was culturally sensitive and relevant to the area, but also creating a place that people felt was their own.
The Englewood store is a great example of the Conscious Capitalism stakeholder model in action – a win, win, win. Customersget healthy foods, including low cost staples ($1.50 for a loaf of whole wheat bread, cage-free eggs for $1.99). Suppliers include local businesses like our recent conscious business boot camp winner Laine’s Bake Shop – who thrive and grow with Whole Foods’ business and guidance. The Community gets a new source of jobs and a vote of confidence that pulls in other retailers, like the Starbucks next door. Employees get to work in a great, positive environment; learn, grow, and have a good wage and benefits. Whole Foods expands their brand and most importantly, gets to fulfill on their purpose. And their Investors prosper as a result of all of it.
I’ll admit it – I’m a softie and had a hard time swallowing my food during my visit to Detroit, moved by the sheer goodness of a business doing the right thing in a profound way. I expect my visit to Englewood to be the same.
*Photos used from “What if Englewood became the new Hyde Park? A battered neighborhood dreams” published in the Chicago Tribune, Sept 30, 2016.