I stopped by Whole Foods the other day to pick up Bert’s Bees non-scented bath products for my 2 month old nephew. The struggle began the moment I had to carry his 500 lb car seat/carrier into the grocery store. I have to pause here to give props to moms who do this regularly. As I struggled to keep it from scraping the concrete sidewalk (I’m only 5’1″), I wondered how people secure them to grocery carts. Once I reached the row of carts, I pulled one out and, with all my strength, lifted it up to chest level to secure it to the cart. After I sat it in place, I noticed that something looked very wrong. It was in place, but his entire body was leaning backward.
Here enters Super Employee! A pretty 30-something, hippie-looking woman with a Whole Foods apron approached. “Hi! Can I help you with that?”
I gratefully nodded my head. “Yes. I’m on aunt duty today and I have no idea how to strap these things to carts.”
“Oh! Here, let me show you. I normally put them in this way. See? Now he looks comfy. He is really beautiful! Do you have any other questions?”
“No, I think that’s it. Thanks!”
She then gave me a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “Okay, well let me know if you have any questions about feeding him or taking care of him in any other way. I’ll be here- just over there.” She pointed to a corner. “You’re going to be fine!” She flashed a golden smile.
Now secure in the knowledge that my nephew was not in any danger of doing a backflip, I found the items I needed and went to the checkout. A punk-dressed teenager with jet black spiky hair flashed a smile and greeted me. I asked her how she was. “I’m great! I love working here! It is so much fun!” I smiled and then scanned the other cashiers, ranging in age from 17-60+, conservatively groomed to bordering revolution. Then it hit me- THIS IS WHY! This is why I spend nearly twice as much at Whole Foods vs. shopping at other, closer, grocery stores. I am happily paying for the experience of being part of a community.
At Whole Foods, employees care about the care of my nephew. At other stores, I’ve often had the feeling that I could have been run over by one of their motorized shopping carts, left bleeding to death, and no one would have called for so much as an isle cleanup.
The same holds true for one of my favorite restaurants in Houston- The Breakfast Klub. Certainly I can find breakfast places that charge half as much, but the atmosphere paired with the fact that the owner personally visits each table, makes the initial investment well worth it.
If you want to charge more for your products/services, sell an experience!