A little background before you read Part 3 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.

Life is all about who you know, and that rings true at Whole Foods. Not only was I constantly surprised by what my customers would teach me, but I was always learning knew things from my fellow team members. Those are the people that are walking the store day in and out. They are stocking the shelves and cases, and they see what products move.

Get to know the departments:- The grocery team knows what products always sell out and which ones are okay to wait on.- The specialty team reigns supreme over all things chocolate, cheese, wine and beer.- The meat and seafood teams have an incredible knowledge of their product and fun ideas for preparation.- The produce team knows how to choose the best of everything.- The bakery team can knock your socks off with all things baking and coffee related.- Whole Body knows how to fix you when you might feel wrong.

Why stand in front of the rows and rows of wine and just pick a mediocre bottle of wine? A team member can suggest something that will be well worth your time and money. Friend and former Whole Foods Marketing team leader, Hadley Larson, sells an award-winning unoaked Chardonnay from her family-owned Sonoma winery, kopriva. (It can be found in Whole Foods and other markets and restaurants throughout California.)

"If you go through a store and are trying to find a good unoaked Chardonnay, you might not pick up a bottle of kopriva,” Larson says. “However, when you have someone at some place like Whole Foods that can tell people about our story, that is how people find us.”

When team members have good customers, they are better team members. Some of the most passionate and well-read people that I have ever met were my fellow team members. They were always teaching me about products that they loved and even knew when those products were getting ready to go on sale. (Hint, hint!)

Of course, there will always be great customer service at Whole Foods, but think of how good you feel when someone goes above and beyond for you. The same things goes for team members, too. They enjoy being appreciated.

When I worked in Oakland, I had a customer that would always buy two bars of nice chocolate and two bottles of fancy water--one bar and water for the cashier and the other for the bagger. I was sure to tell him how much his kindness always made our day.

Team members also enjoy engaging and sharing their knowledge with enthusiastic customers. So, don't be shy, and say hi! You never know what might happen or what money you might save.

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