I have no idea if firing Ken Kavanaugh was justified or not, but I wanted to comment on my experience with the store itself. Speaking purely from a customer perspective, if the board's actions are an attempt to gear up and get ready to compete with Whole Foods coming to town, I think it may be too little too late.
While researching the Treasure Valley and prior to moving here from Colorado in 2009 I was disappointed to learn that upscale (for lack of a better word) grocery shopping options were rather limited. I was relieved when I read about the Boise Co-op as I thought this might fill the void I was expecting upon my arrival. It was not what I had hoped for. I found the store to be leaning much farther toward appealing to the organic/green shopper than I was interested in, more “nuts & granola” if you will. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and if I could afford it I would probably buy more organic and green friendly products. But I what I was really looking for was a food inspiring shopping experience, the kind that makes your stomach growl as you walk the aisles as you see all the culinary possibilities. Anyone who has shopped at a Whole Foods, a Central Market in Texas, Mollie Stone’s in California, or even Trader Joes knows what I’m talking about. I didn’t get that at the Boise Co-op, what I found was a store that had a very nice selection of organic and green friendly products, but a store that felt a little tired, a bit cluttered, not very well lit in places, and offering less international and fresh products than I really wanted. For me, it hasn’t been worth a trip back from the other side of town.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to put down the Boise Co-op, I’m just trying to illustrate that there is a wide spectrum of shopper types. I’m sure there are loads of people who love the Boise Co-op and feel that it perfectly fits their shopping needs, just as there are people who love Albertsons, Wal-Mart, or Whole Foods. And that is not to say you need to pick one or the other, (case in point - anyone who buys laundry detergent or toilet paper at a Whole Foods is an idiot). But Boise is in great need of an upscale shopping experience, and I for one am really looking forward to the arrival of Whole Foods. It will be a nice shopping treat every once in a while, or for when I’m looking for something really exotic or special. I’ll still do the bulk of my shopping at Albertson’s and Costco.
Strategically I think the worst thing that the Boise Co-op can do is to try and compete with Whole Foods head on, it’ll be suicide. You lost that war the day Whole Foods decided to come here. You don’t have the purchasing power and wide access to suppliers that a corporate behemoth like Whole Foods does, and I believe they will steamroll you if you try to play their game. You should hunker down and stick to what you seem to do well: an organic, green-friendly, tree hugging old neighborhood friend that the community has loved since 1973. But you might think about tidying up a little and adding an extra light bulb or two…
Please God make it a Whole Foods or a Trader Joes!
Great article, thanks for the info! I went to Google and added my nomination for Boise / Meridian. Other readers might like to know that the link above to send a nomination to Google is just a tad off, but this link will definitely get you to the right starting place:
Please forward Nathaniel's article to everyone you know and let's get help get Boise & Meridian on Google's radar screen for this project, a grass roots movement if you will. Google is encouraging people to submit videos or links to websites in support of their nomination, the more creative the better. Hey people out there with web-cams, THIS MEANS YOU!
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