Yeah, yeah, very funny—Whole Foods Market might have had enough of the “whole paycheck” jokes already, OK?
That’s presumably why the chain, widely credited for bringing organics to the mainstream back in the day, is rolling out an offshoot of new, budget-friendly “365 by Whole Foods Market” stores, the second of which opened this week in the Portland, Ore., area.
Depending on your point of view, the new 365 by Whole Foods Market store is kind of like a scaled-down Whole Foods Market, or a Trader Joe’s on steroids. But how does 365 stack up to these others pricewise?
To keep costs down at the new 365 stores, Whole Foods says the stores have a smaller footprint—roughly 30,000 square feet versus an average of 43,000 square feet, for starters.
They also employ a lot of energy-saving tactics: Most notably, there are doors on the dairy and meat cases, and the frozen case items are under glass doors you lift as well. Veggies and fruit are, in large part, corralled in a separate, cold-case-like windowed hallway, to keep cool air from escaping. Aesthetically, the interior is more industrial looking, as well as the displays—there are pallet-dropped cases of seltzer and produce, as opposed to the painstakingly arranged ones you might see at a traditional Whole Foods Market.
Unlike the regular stores, the 365 stores offer a rewards program. And there are lots of other little perks for budget-minded shoppers: You can look up virtually any item in inventory on their site to get the pricing, so you can ballpark the budget for your list before heading to the store.
In the salad bar and prepared foods sections, the clamshell to-go containers are all-you-can-fill for one set price—so no more avoiding heavy ingredients!
Like Trader Joe’s, much of the produce is priced per-item, instead of per-pound. And in the bulk and produce aisles at 365, you can weigh, price and barcode your bulk or loose-produce purchases on the spot so there are no surprises at checkout.
To see how the bottom lines measured up between 365 by Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s, I made a list of fridge and pantry staples in advance of heading out to each place to compare prices.
I found the pricing is pretty darn cutthroat: In many cases, the two stores matched down to the penny (see below).
Which would you shop at? For a while, you’ll be limited by location: So far, the only 365 by Whole Foods Market stores are in Lake Oswego, Ore., and the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, whose location opened in May. The next one is slated to open in Bellevue, Wash., this fall.
Keep your fingers, crossed, though: Another 16 locations have been announced, with upcoming locations in Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, Florida, and more in California.
365 by Whole Foods Market vs. Trader Joe’s
365 by Whole Foods Market: 19 cents or 29 cents (for organic), each
Trader Joe’s: 19 cents or 29 cents (for organic), each
365 by Whole Foods Market: $1.50 each
Trader Joe’s: $1.50 each
Watermelon (large whole, seedless)
365 by Whole Foods Market: $3 (on sale, regularly $5)
Trader Joe’s: $3.99
Bagged spinach, organic
365 by Whole Foods Market: $1.99 for 5 ounces
Trader Joe’s: $1.99 for 6 ounces
Chicken breast (boneless, skinless)
365 by Whole Foods Market: $4.69 to $6.79 (for organic) per pound
Trader Joe’s: $4.99 to $6.99 (for organic) per pound
365 by Whole Foods Market: $2.49 or $5.89 (for organic) per gallon
Trader Joe’s: $2.99 or $5.99 (for organic) per gallon
365 by Whole Foods Market: $3.69 for 6 sticks (10 ounces total)
Trader Joe’s: $3.49 for 12 sticks (12 ounces total)
Eggs (1 dozen, cage-free, large)
365 by Whole Foods Market: $3.29
Trader Joe’s: $3.29
365 by Whole Foods Market: $5 (5 stems)
Trader Joe’s: $5.99 (3 stems)
365 by Whole Foods Market: $6.99 per pound (available in bulk section only)
Trader Joe’s: $6.99 per pound (pre-packaged)