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Houston’s First Whole Foods 365 Store: First Impression

The brand name “365 by Whole Foods Market” indicates that healthy foods will be readily available to more people at an affordable price every single day……365 days a year.

The aim of these new stores is to provide the highest quality products at a discount price. The store promises that you will find “no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or sweeteners in anything they sell. Ever.

The new Houston store is located at the northeast corner of 610 and Yale. The 30,000 square foot market will be only the 2nd 365 store to open in Texas. A 365 market was opened last year in Austin’s Cedar Park suburb.

The new store will feature two “Friends of 365” restaurants that share the same standard of quality as Whole Foods. The first restaurant is the Juice Society, which is a health and wellness drink brand that serves superfood-quality products. Some of their products include superfood lattes, plant-based foods, and features a juice called “The General”. This juice is a combination of kale, spinach, romaine, and other greens with lemon and ginger flavoring for an amazing taste.

The second restaurant will be a new Peli Peli Kitchen with numerous pot flavors that include sandwiches inspired by South African cuisine, tacos, salads, and other amazing entrees.

Other features include a hot bar, salad bar as well as many meal-ready options.

Whole Foods established standards have forced other grocery store chains to adapt a similar line of high quality product standards. Other major brand chain grocery stores like Kroger, Costco, and HEB now have organic food product lines.

Some 365 Everyday value chicken products are actually produced by Perdue. Perdue sells this same organic quality of chicken as “Perdue Harvestland” brand at other grocery chain stores.

Open Prairie Natural Angus is another Whole Foods brand without antibiotics or added hormones. It is produced by Tyson Foods and meets Whole Foods standards. Meyer Natural Angus is another brand sold at Whole Foods that can also be found at lower-priced retailers like target.

Then Amazon happened. Amazon acquired Whole Foods for 13.7 billion, their biggest deal ever. It’s a seismic shift in the grocery store market. Whole Foods is primarily in affluent areas, so it doesn’t solve all grocery store problems for all areas in the country.

AmazonFresh, which is a grocery delivery service offered by Amazon, will be expanded to be included in the 365 stores. Whole Foods has built a great brand that customers like and encourages them to eat healthier. Amazon immediately looked to expand the brand, and this upscaling will make it tougher for the small farmers to compete with the larger industrial producers. The small organic farmers helped build the Whole Foods image.

First Impression of Whole Foods 365

Approaching the store from the parking lot, it felt like a typical Whole Foods market. Once I got inside, I immediately saw the ads for savings in the produce up front and on the LED TV screens displaying the Amazon Prime member deals. There was definitely a buzz and alot of interaction taking place within the store. It felt more exciting than your average grocery store.

Most of the store is visible from one viewpoint, so you don’t feel like you’re lost in a warehouse searching aisle after aisle for what you want. There are brightly colored clues that you can read from far away that seem to guide you in the right direction.

 

The strawberries for less than a dollar caught my eye and was my first pickup. To the right was a new juice bar called the Juice Society. I didn’t really get a chance to go back and try the different juices. I’ll have to go back soon and film some video of the inside. I was too distracted by everything else in the store.

The first area I went to (after the strawberries) was the produce section of course. Here I checked out the freshness and quality of the vegetables as well as the price. The price wasn’t too bad, and packaged sweet potato noodles caught my eye. So I went over to inspect it some more.

The price was under $5 so not bad for the amount you are getting. Some of the other produce items had much better deals. All of the produce looked very fresh and well-kept. It was interesting to see the different groupings of vegetables and fruit together in 365-branded packages.

The aisles were pretty packed and kind of tight since you had people continuously stocking the produce and other customers trying to figure out how to bag the produce.

I passed by the salad bar en route to the seafood. The seafood was a little pricey and didn’t offer a discounted advantage over a normal grocery store. I decided to pass and just moved on to the packaged goods section. The Deli caught my eye and was very colorful. Here you can order many sandwiches and pizza varieties to go. I decided I would have to come back and check this out at another time.

My next stop was at the Grab and go kiosk, where there were a number of great sandwiches and salads for a discount price. They had some healthy entrees along with some not so healthy, like Mac ‘n Cheese.

Many of the health supplements were about the same price you would find at an average grocery store or health supplement store. There were a few deals here and there, but nothing significant.

I made my way around to the Fresh to Go Bar, which is what Whole Foods is known for. A number of tasty and healthy entrees are available fresh every day for you to mix and match what you want to eat. The concept here isn’t that much different. There’s a lot of soups, salads, pizza, and other foods similar to what you would find at a normal Whole Foods. There were rows of different Fresh-to-Go bars each having their own specialty. Here is what caught my eye:

The different varieties of pizza looked so amazing that I could not pass it up. There was a veggie and margherita pizza as well, so a little bit for everyone.

I grabbed a box and got as many healthy options as I could. Not a bad price for everything that you can get at once.

The different sized boxes allowed for different combinations of protein, sides, and soups and salads. It looks like they strategically locate the bar so that it forms the “Central Market” of the store.

You kind of have to plan your route around people and baskets as it can get pretty crowded with all of the great selections. I would definitely try to avoid the 5 o’clock rush hour traffic as well.

Organic 365 Meat

I’ve always been kind of skeptical when it comes to organic beef and if the standards really equate to better taste or food safety. I decided to go ahead and buy the 365-branded ground beef to mix with other organic vegetables.

From what I have researched about the whole foods process, you are pretty much paying for the peace of mind that their higher standards provide when it comes to food safety.

Whole Foods has forced the market to adjust to their five-step GAP-certified rating system. This system was developed by the Global Animal Partnership (GAP), a non-profit organization focused on the improvement of animal conditions and quality standards. This system requires a minimum amount of space per animal, access to pasture, and prohibits branding.

This process also applies to their chicken products. As far as taste, there won’t be a significant difference. After trying the beef, it pretty much tasted like any other package of ground beef.

In normal grocery chain and food industry standards, the processed beef is mixed from other beef shipped in from other locations. So once mixed, you don’t know exactly which parts came from where in case of an outbreak of E. Coli or other disease.

At least with Whole Foods standards, there is a bit more transparency and accountability in the way that the animal livestock is raised and processed. At least now if the Higher standard of processed beef COSTS the same as normal beef, then you know which one I am going to choose.

Whole Foods 365 products

Some of the products you can find at Whole Foods 365 include: Sustainable seafood, free-range grass fed beef, natural skin care and cleaning products that contain no harmful chemicals, cage-free 365 everyday Value eggs, and many more.

To get an idea of some of the Whole Food recipes available at the 365 store, check out the store link here.

Some of their best products include a 7-day body cleanse. This product provides a special proprietary blend with special fiber powder that works to remove all toxins in your system. You can also enjoy Prime member deals on this, which I will get to here in a bit.

Another great product is their 365 Almond butter. Only Sea salt and dry roasted almonds can be found in this unsweetened product. This helps to cut down on sugar and artificial sweeteners. It’s perfect for snacking anytime!

If you are not yet an Amazon Prime member, you can sign up here for a 30-day free trial. You will get an extra 10% off when you see these signs (like the one below) at a Whole Foods 365 store!

Then, you can check out this week’s Featured Deals for Prime Members here. Every week there are new deals and you can even have the groceries delivered if you are in a zip code where it is allowed. The website will check your location for you.

Prime Member Deals

The best part about the Whole Foods connection to amazon is that prime members get special deals throughout the store in addition to an extra 10% off of hundreds of sale items. Blue sale signs will indicate deals that are only available to Prime members. Existing sale items will have a Yellow sign that indicates an extra 10% off for Prime members.

To take advantage of your offers as a prime member, simply download the Whole Foods Market app to your phone and sign in with your login information. Then show the QR code inside the app to the cashier. An alternative form of verification is simply providing the phone number associated with the account at the time of purchase.

Another huge benefit of being a Prime customer is, of course, FREE 2-HOUR DELIVERY from you local Whole Foods Market store (in select cities). Even more, if you have an Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card, then you are eligible for 5% cash back.

Not only can you get your groceries delivered, but also alcoholic beverages. How crazy is that?

Prime customers can also use Alexa to add items to their Whole Foods Market cart. Then when you are ready, you can access your cart in the app and finalize the order.

There will also be a rewards program that can allow you to get rewarded with free products after enough points are accumulated. So you don’t even have to be a prime member to see extra savings and benefits.

Whole Foods introduces pickup points for online grocery orders connected through Amazon. The service is called “Click and Collect.”

Whole Foods Quality

The main thing that Whole Foods brands offers customers that the other major grocery chains do not is: peace of mind. In other grocery stores, you have to really read the labels to search and determine the accuracy of the information in terms of safety. At Whole Foods, all of their products meet the same high level of quality and rigorous processing standards.

Whole Foods has not only influenced the way animals are raised around the world, but it may be encouraging the growth of its own competition to get on their level. If Whole Foods standards become the industry standard, then the prices will start to lower for organic-raised poultry and beef.

Whole Foods + Amazon will continue to change the game in consumer grocery store experience. The consumer now becomes the main beneficiary, who can now get organic quality meat and produce at a cheaper price than before and delivered at a touch of a pad or voice-activated Alexa.

I will continue to follow up with an update and video for new products that I try out. Here are some shots of my meal prep from my first visit to the new Whole Foods 365 Independent Heights store:

If you have any personal experiences regarding Whole Foods 365, please share it in the comments below. I plan to create new blog posts and follow up with some reviews of Whole Foods products. Thanks for reading and stay happily energetic!

 

 

2 thoughts on “Houston’s First Whole Foods 365 Store: First Impression

  1. Great review! Looks like a great store–I’m glad the Amazon ownership is adding some excitement. I have not been to check out the new one in my area yet, I’m going to have to do that soon!

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Holly! I would definitely recommend checking out your nearest 365 store, but also check to see if they have a store online. You may be able to save money or get them delivered to your home if you are an Amazon prime member. Happy shopping!

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