Calling it “the equivalent of the Beatles Concert at Shea Stadium” for Whole Foods fanatics, Jim Crotty, one of the monks of Monk Magazine, called me today to report on the “total scene” at the opening of Whole Foods latest New York store in Union Square.
“People were walking around inspecting things,” Crotty said, adding “it was like an art show.” Jim reported that nobody was buying, except at the café, and the lines were short. Memo to the Korean corner grocers nearby: update your salad bars pronto or don’t renew your lease.
Not too long ago, I was driving a cab when New York’s Union Square was known for discount clothes stores that sold to immigrant families without much cash. Years earlier it was the site of rallies that sparked the American Labor Movement, giving the square its current name. Today the once seedy neighborhood is now trendier than Britney’s latest marriage. WFM is located next to Virgin Records, and a block away from the W Hotel. The café overlooks Union Square and as one eats, Jim told me one wonders what the ghosts of America’s Labor Movement must be thinking about America’s glossiest non-union grocer.
Two weeks earlier, I was exploring the Whole Foods in the Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle, and was surprised to see a floor display with Tropicana Fruit bars. When asked, an employee shrugged and told me, “I don’t know how that crap got in here.”