180 degree turn on 365
Whole Foods Market opening first East Austin store after canning low-cost model
A change in direction for Whole Foods Market will have major ramifications for Plaza Saltillo, the massive development currently under construction at the corner of Fifth and Comal streets just east of Interstate 35. Jason Thumlert, a principal at developers Endeavor Real Estate Group, confirms to CultureMap that the planned Whole Foods 365 store going into the project will instead be a Whole Foods Market.
According to a memo from Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, the company plans to scrap the Whole Foods 365 store format, a lower-cost version of the brand that debuted less than two years ago.
In the internal communication, which was first reported on January 11 by Yahoo, Mackey said “the price distinction between the two brands has become less relevant,” and the company will be focusing on the growing the core business under the original name.
The price drop was aided by Amazon’s $13.7 billion acquisition of the Austin-born grocery giant in June 2017. Almost immediately after the deal was finalized, Whole Foods began offering discounts on several goods with bonus deals available for Amazon Prime members, turning it into a de facto customer rewards program.
The existing 12 locations of Whole Foods 365, including the outpost in Cedar Park, will continue operating under that banner. In the memo, Mackey says the company will continue to tinker with store concepts without a complete rebranding.
Cedar Park’s pair of capsule concepts, Easy Tiger and JuiceLand, will also continue operating as usual. The Austin companies came on as part of a new initiative to bring outside businesses into Whole Foods, a collaboration that also brought the first Texas location of Portland vegan burger joint Next Level Burger into the downtown flagship.
The Whole Foods swap caps off a busy slate of announcements coming out of Plaza Saltillo. In late November 2018, popular San Antonio eatery Pinch Boil House and Bia Bar became the latest concept to sign on to the project, joining previously confirmed restaurants like Snooze, Ginger Man, Tarka Indian Kitchen, and Dolce Neve Gelato.