The Whole Foods Indicator

Anna and I spent Sunday afternoon at the 27th annual Greek Festival in Raleigh. We saw some friends, listened to upbeat Greek music and of course, sampled the goodies from this part of the world. It was a great father-daughter afternoon.

On the way home, we stopped at Whole Foods Market to pick up a few items, and I was simply amazed. We don’t shop there all that often since it is a bit of a hike to get there from our home. This place was packed! Every cashier line was filled at least 3 people deep. Is it always like this on Sunday afternoons?

If you picked up a paper or looked at the news on TV or the Internet last week, you are sure to have heard of, or read about, the massive financial debacle that we as taxpayers are now adding to our tab. It will take weeks or months (years?) for the enormity of this crisis to fully sink in with the public. The scale of this definitely falls into the category of ‘Big Scary Numbers’. And when those retirement statements hit the mailboxes over the next few months, I expect that Main Street will begin to stir even more.

I won’t begin to try and predict an economic bottom to this swing, or a six-month direction for the stock market. As some of you may know, I’ve been helping my good friend and business associate Scott Andrews from focus on a very short period of time to trade – what happens to the futures market first thing in the morning.

I do however believe that I may have stumbled upon a very interesting economic indicator – I’ll call it the ‘Whole Foods Indicator’. Even with the economy in financial disarray, consumers still flock to quality products and a superior purchase experience. Everything simply moves down the ladder a rung or two. Instead of spending more money for a night out, spend a little less at Whole Foods and get great, healthy food. Why is this important to Anna’s Gourmet Goodies? Because I sense that people and companies will do the same thing when it comes to their gift giving this holiday season.

For years we have been providing incredible gourmet cookies (yes, I have tried almost every major competitor and ours are the best IMHO) and customer service that simply cannot be surpassed. We’ve kept the business laser focused on what we do best, providing gifts for individuals and businesses and shipping them direct to the customer. From the organic, locally milled flour to our environmentally friendly packaging, our cookies and brownies simply make you feel good. And, we’ve kept our price point at a very attractive level by avoiding the overhead and leverage that so often sinks a business (ala Mrs. Fields, now filing for Chapter 11). We’re booking holiday orders now and looking forward to another record holiday season. For those people and companies used to spending $50-100 on a basket of ‘stuff’, we have a very tasty solution – gourmet cookies!

In June of this year, I responded to an article by Sue Stock in the News & Observer about this very issue. They published my response in the Talk Back section of the paper. While I believe that we are in for a bit of a shake out in our economy, I choose to focus on seeing the opportunity as opposed to lamenting over the loss. No, my glasses don’t have a rose colored tint. I’ve simply found that what you focus on most certainly shows up in life and in business. And I see our business thriving as individuals and companies look to reduce their spending, but still want a gift experience that is truly outstanding.

As with any market swing, some businesses will not survive, while others grow and thrive. There will be no shortage of opinion over the coming months as to what might and might not happen with our economy. I do read that Warren Buffett is out there with his checkbook, snapping up bargain priced companies. He certainly knows a thing or two about the economy and where we are heading. I wonder if I could interest him in a large quantity of incredibly delicious chocolate chip cookies?

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