An Open Letter to Water Robb, CEO of Whole Foods
This letter is addressed to Walter Robb, CEO of Whole Foods. While I enjoy shopping at Whole Foods and even own stock in the company, they do seem to make it a business practice to have unbelievably small parking lots, like half the size they need to be. While their customer service is extraordinary inside the store, it's almost as if they don't want people to be able to get inside the store. In fact, I strongly suspect that Whole Foods is engaging in some kind of psychological experiment. Do people spend more because they're so happy they actually got a parking spot? Are they hungrier when they're mad? I'm strongly encouraging Walter Robb and Whole Foods to invest in ample parking lot spaces. I hope they find this letter encouraging.
Dear Mr. Walter Robb,
Having visited your Whole Foods store in Boulder, Colorado recently, I felt compelled to write you since the parking situation there necessitated your hiring of a private, armed police force because you were quite clearly concerned that the lack of parking spots was going to cause some kind of altercation.
Seriously, I went there with my son and, by some miracle, was able to find a parking spot in less than thirty minutes. As we walked into your market, we passed one of the parking lot security guys and noticed that he was packing heat. I'm sure that in his role as an expert arm waver and finger pointer, this gentleman was also skilled in the use of his pistol and wasn't at all likely to shoot some doofus in a Lexus who might flip him off because the poor guy finally found a parking spot that just happened to be located off the main egress artery and required him to wait there while backing up traffic into the street. It was a source of amusement to my three-year-old that parking at Whole Foods might get you shot. Actually, I had to explain to my three-year-old that he might get shot in the Whole Foods parking lot and he started to cry. Now he's scared to go back, but since you have all that great bakery stuff, he's deciding one whether cookies are worth being shot.
Okay, Mr. Robb, I'm going to give you a bit of a break here because it was December 23rd, so it was kind of crowded at your store. However, I do have a recommendation. I think if you had more than 300 spots for the two thousand cars that are zooming in and out of that lot every five minutes, you might not need armed parking lot attendants. But kudos to you, sir, because this particular lot had recently been redesigned and I think you actually added a hundred or so spots and were probably able to give pink slips to the rooftop snipers. Seriously, can you say "parking structure?" Oh wait, I'm pretty sure this goes against the Whole Foods aesthetic. Why make something convenient for a customer who's about to spend $2.50 for an avocado, $25 for an herb that cures halitosis, and $120 for a hemp sweater. Clearly, a guy who's going to buy a $120 hemp sweater is going to waste his whole day looking for a parking spot if necessary.
I don't know if you sell $120 hemp sweaters. I just made that up. But let's face it, you sell a lot of stuff that seems really overpriced. That being said, I recognize you're not forcing anyone to buy it. My point is that most of your customers fall into two types: those who are desperate to look cool shopping at your store and those who have unlimited amounts of disposable income to buy $10 pre-made tarts or $15 chocolate bars sprinkled with gold shavings. This type of person also has the free-time to drive around in a circle for an hour looking for a parking spot because they realize that if they drive over to King Soopers or Safeway or, god forbid, Albertson's, they understand very clearly that their coolness factor will plummet faster than a fat guy pushed out of an airplane without a parachute. People who shot at Whole Foods have lots of disposable income and, apparently, lots of disposable time. There must be a correlation between the two.
Just for the record, Mr. Robb, I want you to know that I know that a fat guy and a thin guy plummet out of an airplane without a parachute at the same speed because I don't want you to write me off as some uneducated lunatic or a patron of Safeway because you know and I know that the average education level of the Whole Foods customer is higher than that of the Safeway customer. I do patronize Safeway, but only when forced. I just thought "fat guy pushed out of an airplane" was funnier.
In two consecutive visits to your parking lot, I had one parking space I was waiting for stolen by some old guy who appeared oblivious to my giant, red minivan and turn signal. Two days later, I found myself waiting behind an old couple in a Toyota Rav 4 who were waiting for a parking spot that was stolen by some obnoxious wad in a red BMW going the wrong way in your lot obviously preying on those of us following the rules. Was that not the perfect opportunity for one of your armed parking attendants to unholster his weapon? The least they could have done was taze this guy. As it was, we had to settle for stuffing his gas tank with sea beans and organic almond flour.
While there's a part of me that really enjoys shopping in Whole Foods and a part of me that goes there wishing painful death on everyone around me, I don't want you to misinterpret this as me having something against Whole Foods. I sincerely admire your merchandising and sales philosophy and I understand pretty well how they work. I think it's genius that you suck people into your store with decent prices on basic items and then convince them through great presentation, merchandise selection, and ungodly social pressure, to spend every last dime they earn on peppermint covered pretzel chips, bread loaves that look like God himself made them, and other ridiculously expensive, but delectable items. In all seriousness, I would love to end my life eating myself to death in a Whole Foods.
Unfortunately, I think you have more cash registers in your store than parking spots. It makes no sense. Again, maybe not entirely true, but do you have some secret corporate philosophy regarding cash register to parking spot ratios? Yours might be one to twenty or so. It's absolutely insane and apparently not specific to any one Whole Foods. It's a national disgrace.
You seem like a smart guy, so I'm sure this is a problem you can solve. I'm confident that eventually, if people are forced to drive around in your parking lots for tens of minutes, they are eventually going to stop shopping there. This needless, unnecessary suffering must end. I beg of you to make it happen.
How do you feel about Whole Foods?
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