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An Open Letter to Water Robb, CEO of Whole Foods

Updated on September 23, 2014

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.

Walter Robb, CEO of Whole Foods
Walter Robb, CEO of Whole Foods

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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Is it worth getting shot? (CC-BY 2.0)
Is it worth getting shot? (CC-BY 2.0) | Source

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  • Father Of Four profile image

    Father Of Four 6 years ago from Just ahead

    Nice to have the video for supporting evidence. I don't have a local Whole Foods, but I'll make sure to allow myself ample time for parking if I'm forced to make a visit sometime. Thanks for the heads up.

  • phdast7 profile image

    Theresa Ast 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

    Oh, I believed you about the armed parking attendants.

    About 15 years ago I traveled from my home in a quiet suburb north of Atlanta to DC to spend a month doing research in the National Archives. I stayed just outside of DC and some of the grocery stores had armed guards out front. It was both shocking and sobering.

  • crankalicious profile image

    crankalicious 6 years ago from Colorado

    I am completely serious about there being armed parking attendants.

  • phdast7 profile image

    Theresa Ast 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

    Crankalicious- This was a delightful and delectable (note the food reference adjective) and I could not stop laughing, literally could not stop. You so nailed it.

    I plan to share this with all my friends and family, some of whom will stiffen slightly and furrow their forehead - they will totally not get the humor or the reality underlying it. (They shop at Whole Foods all the time.)

    The rest of them will fall on the floor laughing until they cry and shouting, "Its all true, its all true!" (They are regular folks who occasionally shop at Whole Foods.) Well done, sir!!

  • adrienne2 profile image

    Adrienne F Manson 6 years ago from Atlanta

    Pleased to meet you Crank, OMG your letter is way to funny!! Ok the video to funny as well. I am in Chicago, I have never seen parking lot security guards with guns. I hope you were joking about this part. I was trying not to LOL, but nice letter. Voted up and funny.

  • Sunshine625 profile image

    Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

    Kudos to you crank for this letter! We have a couple of Whole Foods in Orlando and I've been to them twice...once to check out what all the fuss was about and the second time was to use their restroom. Way to overpriced, cramped aisles and the ambience was not to my liking. There wasn't a parking issue for us I just crammed my Toyota in between two Porsches. Not a fan of WF but I'm a fan of this hub! Voted UP!

  • Joe Macho profile image

    Zach 6 years ago from Colorado

    The hub is rightly justified after seeing the two magical words, "Boulder, Colorado". I understand completely.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    This is hilarious! I am at work trying to quietly read and I ended up snorting from trying not to laugh hard at this. I've never been to Whole Foods, but Trader Joe's has a similar parking situation in my area.... minus the guys with guns. Voted up and funny!

  • Pcunix profile image

    Tony Lawrence 6 years ago from SE MA

    The parking lot at our Whole Foods is also crowded, but we've never noticed armed guards.

    "Fortunately" (in quotes for what I hope are obvious reasons) my wife is handicapped. We can almost always find handicapped parking.

    We shop there, at Trader Joes, Roche Bros and at Hannafords - and even pick up a very few things at disgusting Walmart. Nobody has exactly what we want at the price we want to pay, so it's a big circuit every week. No armed guards anywhere :-)

  • seo guru profile image

    seo guru 6 years ago from Chicago Area

    Maybe I am confused by this. Could it be that this is such a great place to shop that it draws all these cars and people.

    Could it be that this store has a finite amount of property they can use to create parking spaces.

    Could you shop at different hours to avoid the crowds.

    Really, don't you have a choice to shop elsewhere. Don't you believe that if they could provide more parking they would.

    I am sure it is frustrating but obviously customers want what they are selling and isn't that the idea, offering the things people want so they come to the store. Sounds to me like they (Whole Foods) are doing a fabulous job

  • profile image

    Sunnie Day 6 years ago

    This was so funny...I love whole foods but everything you say is so right!...I sure can not afford to shop there but I do like to go and I have eaten at the raw foods area and I have ordered a grass hopper smoothie..YUM!!! It is almost an hour away so do not go often...Some things you can order on line and sure is a lot cheaper..Loved the video..very funny.

    Thanks for sharing


  • mljdgulley354 profile image

    mljdgulley354 6 years ago

    This was funny reading but if it really did happen I bet there was a bit of road rage brewing. Great hub


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