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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fed probe into Whole Foods reaches New Seasons

A commenter on this blog entry of ours this morning notes that it has.

UPDATE, 12:07 p.m.: Our commenter is definitely onto something. Check out this document on the Federal Trade Commission website. New Seasons has clearly been dragged into the fray.

Comments (4)

On a related note, the trial court's opinion in the case was released yesterday, and some parts about competitors were blacked out so that the public could not see them. It's here.

Just like the MSM notices times are a changing, the big grocery chains see it too--and they attack by questioning New Seasons. Sad but true.

I neglected to disclose initially that I work for New Seasons... partly because I'm not sure I should be privy to that knowledge, nor am I sure I should be talking about it publicly. But I feel this action deserves sunlight because it reeks of government favoritism to larger corporations.

What angers me is that New Seasons is not a corporation, we are set to open our 9th store next week in Happy Valley. All these stores reside in the Portland metro area. We have customers from Vancouver, Eugene, Salem, Medford, Bend, California, Seattle and beyond that ask us (repeatedly) "When are you going to open a store in our city?". But our simple reply has always been, "We're keeping it simple here in Portland so that the wheels don't come off in an attempt to grow beyond our means." I'm paraphrasing of course, but if the government and Whole Foods are looking to use our PRIVATE financials to bolster an anti-trust case, wouldn't we be the LAST place they'd look??

Our direct competitor IS NOT Whole Foods, it's Safeway, QFC and the like. We're a hybrid of the two, and our newest, biggest stores in Beaverton and Happy Valley more closely resemble a supermarket layout for suburban tastes. We're doing well, we're private, and we're beating the odds against the outside chains... unprecedented in these times anywhere in the country. So of course we have a target on our backs and executives from grocery chains all over the country try to pry information from our managers.

I won't hide the fact that I truly believe in what we do. We have an edge on these jerks in the minds of Portlanders because we work with so many local businesses, support farmers markets, and every department carries high standards to ensure you get he best product possible. And our success has meant many products around the store have come way down in price... it's not Whole Paycheck expensive, and it's not Safeway cheap, but it's getting much closer to the latter than one would think.

I'd also like to add that New Seasons' official position on the merger and FTC actions was ((shrug)) until they dragged us into it for dubious reasons... we were perhaps the only grocery company to not watch the proceedings anxiously.

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