amazon, whole foods

Amazon Buys Whole Foods, What It Means To LA Shoppers

Amazon buys Whole FoodsHonestly, I didn’t know how to react when I learned that Amazon bought Whole Foods last August.

I must say my first reaction was negative.  I remember the feeling when a couple of much loved smaller natural foods stores were swallowed up by Whole Foods when I lived in Denver.  We lost a much more “caring” attitude toward customers and the quality of the organic and natural products they sold in the smaller stores.

With Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, I feel we will only see that happening on a much grander scale.  I mean Amazon is fine for books, CDs, appliances, clothing and so on.  But natural, organic foods?  Amazon’s BIG corporate mentality just goes against that. I’m afraid much will be lost.  I also am not a fan of giant corporations swallowing up everything in sight.  Too much is lost.

On the “positive” side, shoppers are seeing lower and lower prices at Whole Foods.  Since it is almost Thanksgiving, I’ll mention how much you can save on your holiday turkey if you are an Amazon Prime member (if anyone else is seeing a situation here that leans against the border of anti-trust, anti-competitive laws, I’ve heard when they finish rolling out their Amazon Prime/Whole Foods incentive program it will have Kroger running scared).

As for Thanksgiving price cuts, Amazon/Whole Foods announced it’s slashing prices on several holiday foods including sweet potatoes, canned pumpkin and turkey. It’s not clear to me yet whether these are in store discounts to all, or if it is only for the  Amazon Prime members.  I do know that on turkey Amazon Prime members can save up to $1.49 pound.  That is nothing to sneeze at.  You can read more on how to get these incredible sale price on Thanksgiving turkeys here.

According to Business Insider the day the acquisition went through, prices of many Whole Foods items immediately dropped, some up to 40%. More price cuts have been announced since.

Amazon has stated they have taken many cost cutting measures, at the same time as they will be hiring more employees.  If this makes you wince and think of the Walmart effect, well it does me too.  When Walmart stores opened in smaller towns where the impact was more visible, the cost of those “lower” prices was that many of the towns residents working at competing stores lost their jobs, or took massive pay cuts and became unable to support their families.  Many news articles have surfaced how many low paid Walmart employees require assistance from the government (i.e your ever increasing tax dollars) to make ends meet.

The stores will also be seeing an increase in products that are definitely not natural foods, in fact they are not foods at all.

My overall take on this is that while I like Amazon as what it has been… a place to buy books, music, appliances, cookware etc., I do wish they had left one of our few natural grocers alone. I’m afraid that the lower prices will not be enough of a savings to justify the potential damage it could do to our organic food industry.

I am also quite concerned that in Los Angeles where rents and the overall cost of living is rising, while wages are dropping that we can’t afford the Amazon discounts if they mean our retail workers are going to be taking big pay cuts as part of Amazon’s new “cost cutting measures.”  These are false economies that in the long run only make things tighter for all concerned.

I hope that Amazon proves me wrong.

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