Imagine a place where you could get a deer antler tattoo while eating quinoa chips and buying your fav Tame Impala record. A retail space so youthful and vibrant that you could get your bicycle repaired while shopping for ethically raised cuts of meat. That dream (or nightmare) may soon become reality thanks to Whole Foods.
The natural foods juggernaut is trying to woo younger consumers with a new program called Friends of 365 by Whole Foods Market which would work with local businesses to offer a whole range of non-food-related items at its 365 retail locations.
The 365 by Whole Foods brand is a less expensive and more youth-oriented offshoot of the Whole Foods mothership. The creation of this alternative retailer, combined with talk of tattoos and records suggests that Whole Foods is attempting to pander to a gross caricature of the kale-loving, tattooed, fixie-riding Millennial "hipster."
"Friends of 365 may be any type of business—from food and drinks to fashion, body care products, services, and more," the program website says. "Record shop? Tattoo parlor? Maybe! And each 365 store may have a different mix of friends. The more variety, the merrier!"
The stated goal is to "reach more communities than we would be able to with our mothership," Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb said in an interview on Bloomberg TV, adding that they were targeting "small-sized stores" who have been very competitive in reaching Millennials who are suspicious of huge chains like Whole Foods.
And in order to combat the suspicions of a very savvy consumer demographic, Friends of 365 will be focusing on partnerships with local businesses who can bring a lot of "special mojo," whatever that means.
"Friends of 365 are independent businesses who bring their special mojo to our 365 stores," Whole Foods proclaims on its website. "We want to partner with startups as well as established brands across a variety of categories to help enhance the 365 experience. We're looking for Friends with a strong offering and personality that can stand out in our space."
This could be the future of retail shopping for young consumers but, in the words of Tame Impala, it feels like we're only going backwards.