Whole Foods’ Bold New Direction in Foodservice

A former hot bar is reinvented for the holidays
Whole Foods toys
Photograph by WGB Staff

Since the start of the pandemic, hot bars have gone cold, but a Whole Foods Market in Denver has found a way to turn up the heat on this once vibrant area of the store. While shoppers used to peruse the chicken and broccoli, enchiladas and grilled tofu, now it’s plush toys, PBS Kids gifts, advent calendars and an assortment of American Academy of Pediatrics-approved games from Melissa & Doug.

It’s yet another sign that the 2020 holiday season will be like no other. According to Coresight Research, 68.9% of holiday shoppers expect to switch spending from services to products this year, providing a potential multibillion-dollar boost to retailers, the company said. Shoppers are also looking to trade up, with 51.8% of shoppers saying they plan to purchase better quality products this year. Some nine months into a pandemic that has kept consumers largely at home, 49.4% of shoppers expect to have more money to spend because they have spent less and saved more in recent months, according to Coresight.

If Whole Foods shoppers can’t have their favorite warm kale side or simmering chicken dish from the hot bar, they may be more willing to purchase a plush koala bear or educational toy from a cheerful holiday display.

whole foods toys
Photograph by WGB Staff

This year, the Austin-based grocer is also continuing its holiday partnership with PBS Kids that began in 2014. Whole Foods Market donates 1% of sales from each PBS Kids toy sold at Whole Foods Market stores to the Whole Kids Foundation.

Many of the toys on display at the Whole Foods Market in the Cherry Creek neighborhood of Denver are from Melissa & Doug, which describes its vision for the world as one “where children can ignite their imagination and sense of wonder so they can discover themselves, their passions, and their purpose.” A goal that “is impossible unless we stand together against racial injustice. We will only begin to heal and bring about meaningful change when we learn to see one another through the eyes of love, compassion and respect,” the company said.


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