Whole Foods, Hybrids, and Parking


Whole Foods, Hybrids, and Parking

Wow!!! This article tells it like it truly is. The author is a business owner in Chicago and shops at Whole Foods, a health first food store chain. He spends half the article telling us how much he loves Whole Foods and their environmentally friendly policies, and also how much he likes the idea of saving the environment. So far so good, at least for the New York Times.

But that’s not the topic of the article. He is complaining that Whole Foods put a half a dozen parking spaces reserved for hybrid cards right up front next to the handicapped spaces. He doesn’t like it:

The good deed, though, comes at the expense of other customers. I find it pretentious at best, condescending at worst. Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate the value of driving a hybrid. But their owners get rewarded with lower fuel costs and the self-satisfaction of doing something good for the environment. I don’t feel the need to treat them like royalty.

I mentioned this new phenomenon to a few of my staff members. Kate thought it was a good idea. She took it as a reward for doing something good for the environment. Nellie thought it was snobby, and noted that if anyone could afford to drive further to find a spot, it would be the high miles-per-gallon hybrid!

Someone else said she felt bad because she was being left out even though she tries to do the right thing — she brings her own bags. It strikes her as elitist (hybrids can be expensive, you know). It reminds her of walking past all of the first-class passengers on the plane as she finds her way to the back. And that is part of my point. I think everyone accepts that the people in first class pay a lot of money to sit there, or are frequent fliers. Shouldn’t the grocery store be more egalitarian? That seems to be consistent with their Whole ethos.

He goes on to indicate that even if only 10 or 20 percent of the people that see the spaces are turned off or have negative thoughts, isn’t that enough. Shouldn’t we be all about service, and what our customer’s want?

I’m not certain that Whole Foods, or for that matter the folks in Columbus who installed the electric charging stations for eight cars or in the town near Denver that provides free parking to hybrids, ever were asked by anyone who actually drove one of these vehicles to do so. They were jumping on a political band wagon that frankly is losing steam daily. He ends his article with these words:

I believe that one of the tenets of running a good business is being customer-driven. It should not matter, however, what the customer is driving. Please, Whole Foods, I promise to consider buying a hybrid whether you have reserved spots or not. I will not be mad if I have to park it with the regular folks. It will help promote peace and love in the parking lot.

Take the time to read the entire article. Its right on the money.

Hat Tip: Mary Smith and Steve Cebra at Walker


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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