A little background before you read Part 2 in my Insider's Series to Shopping at Whole Foods: I started working for Whole Foods Market in 2007. I worked off and on for the company at multiple stores throughout California until last year. I'm sharing all the tips, tricks, and strategies I learned during my time at the grocery store so you can learn to shop and save there, too.
Probably one of the most intimidating parts of shopping at a store like Whole Foods is the fear that you might not like that $5 jar of barbecue sauce once you actually try it at home. Well, Whole Foods has an answer—try before you buy. If you want to sample a product (not including alcohol), team members are allowed to let you try it.
There are rules and protocols about this practice, so team members may need to get approval before popping open a box or jar. Please be patient with them. Also, stores have price caps on what can be sampled. In my experience, that cap has typically been $10 or less. (It's still a business, so one must be reasonable.)
I've used this practice myself: One time, I was shopping at Whole Foods Sherman Oaks East and could not decide if I wanted to buy a particular white blueberry tea I had seen (I was working in the Whole Foods in Pasadena at the time). I stood in the beverage aisle for at least five minutes, picking up and putting down different bottles. I kept coming back to that bottle of white blueberry tea. There was a grocery team member stocking shelves nearby, and he had been watching me struggle with my tea decision. He stopped what he was doing and came over to me to ask if I was finding everything OK. (That’s normally a clue that you look like you are not finding everything OK.) I conceded I was struggling with my decision.
“Would you like to try it?” he asked.
Even though I was a current Whole Foods team member at the time (I did not tell him that), I was still pleasantly surprised that he offered to let me sample this tea.
“Yes, please. That would be great,” I said.
He admitted that he had wanted to try it, too, so he went to get two cups. When he came back, he handed me one cup, cracked open the bottle of tea, and filled our little cups. It was delicious—we both agreed—and I bought a few bottles after thanking him numerous times.
Standing in the middle of that aisle with that team member drinking tea, I was reminded of the power of customer service. When people share time, food, and drinks with one another, it makes them feel valued. Not only did I save time and money by that sampling, but in turn, it made me want to do the same for the next customer that I came across at my own store.
So to that grocery team member out there, thanks for the chat and the tea. You are still making my day.
- Part 1: Welcome to the Real Whole Foods: A Former Employee Tells You How to Save Big
- Part 3: It's Who You Know