Monday, February 7, 2011

Attack of the 50-Foot Woman

Does This Store Make Me Look Fat?

Steve Martin had a stand-up bit in which he'd tell the audience he was going to do his impression of the Incredible Shrinking Man. He'd ask the audience to close their eyes for a moment, and when they opened them, he'd have raised the microphone several feet.

This is the opposite of my experience at Whole Foods.


Do you have Whole Foods in your town? They can be identified by their Euro-woodsy exterior, heaps of local weeklies toppling in the doorway, and parking lots clogged with honking Land Rovers, their drivers flipping each other off while wearing organic cotton t-shirts printed with sayings like "Practice Random Acts of Kindness" and "Namaste."

[Note: Whole Foods is not to be confused with Trader Joe's - the rebel grocery sibling whose share of the industry involves lulling customers into thinking they've spent the afternoon buying carob-coated pumpkin seeds and miniature quiches in a cross between an Army PX and Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean ride.]

I live in a volatile bubble on the time-space continuum, equal distance from three (count 'em) three Whole Foods stores and buffeted by the unique socio-political vibrations of each. Each store has its individual quirks: the hair-raising U-turn across an onslaught of cross-traffic required to enter the Brentwood parking lot, the glacial pace of the elevator in the Wilshire store, and the thicket of tropical orchids (one of which I swear fired a poisonous dart into the back of my neck) that one must hack through to enter the store on Montana Avenue.

Fine.

However.

The matter with which I take issue is one that per
tains to each of these stores, nay (that's right, I said "nay") every Whole Foods store I ever entered.

Whole Foods stores are too friggin' SMALL.

Yes, SMALL. As in bite-sized. As in Lillip
utian. As in I should be able to fit down an aisle sideways without my shoulder blades emptying the shelf behind me and my nipples wiping out the shelf in front of me.


I'll admit, at 5'9" I'm not petite. I get that. I have to say, however, that I never worry about banging my forehead on a ceiling-mounted security camera when I'm in Albertson's.

No, it's only in Whole Foods that I feel like I've morphed into a water buffalo upon passing through the automatic glass door.

Oh, sure, they try to fake you out with those little weirdo shopping carts that aren't built to human scale. You have to bend at the waist to reach the handle and if you arrange things just right they'll hold a grape and a box of Tic Tacs.

Then there's the tricky packaging, designed to make yo
u think you're in a normal-sized store. Should I buy 20 grains of rice, or splurge and get the economy-sized box of 50?

Why am I there, you ask? Well, honestly, I forget. I walk out in a grump with my bags (which upon returning to full-scale land, I discover are the si
ze of paper lunch sacks), swearing that I'm never going back and rubbing my ankles, raw from being sideswiped by the exotic olive barge.

Then, six months later or so, I am desperate for some fresh idea for dinner and I figure it can't be as bad as I remember, right? I was probably just
having a bad day.

Which is what happened yesterday when I found myself mooing and swishing my leathery tail down the produce aisle, my cloven hooves cracking the distressed wood floors with each step and my horns spearing bundles of aura-balancing soy candles with every toss of my head.

Come on, I thought later as my family struggled to survive the evening on a roasted chicken the size of my fist and asparagus spears my husband initially brushed away as grass clippings. Who was I kidding? I'm a child of the suburbs, where the parking is above-ground, TP comes in 48-roll packs and the grocery store is roomy enough to cut doughnuts in a Delta '88 without riffling a single page of The National Enquirer.

I've learned my lesson. From now on, I'm livin' LARGE.

By the way, as long as you're here, could you help me load that pallet of Pop-Tarts onto my forklift?

Thanks.




81 comments:

the mama bird diaries said...

My Whole Foods in NYC was enormous. Or maybe I'm just really short.

Marinka said...

Ha!
I love Whole Foods for how painlessly they separate me from my money. I never realized that the store was tiny. I was just busy fuming that they were letting in other people to crowd me. Thank you for shedding the light!

Heather said...

Hmmm, I know nothing of this "Whole Foods" of which you speak. We have no such store anywhere here in the (obviously) hideously boondocky backwoods of upstate New York.

We have no Trader Joe's, either.

I feel so deprived!

I *did* however once own a Delta 88. Her name was Bessie and she was navy blue with a pearly white, velour interior. Oh yeah. (She was my very first car - you never forget your first, right?)

Back to the WF/TJ stores... I don't think that'd be my cup of tea anyhow. I prefer to shop at the warehouse club stores, where I can buy my TP in cases of 60 and boxes of cornflakes so large, I need a building permit to set them upright in my pantry.

And let's not forget the ten gallon jars of mayo...

Ann's Rants said...

And they don't even SELL Tic Tacs at Whole Foods.

(fuming)

Lady Mama said...

Stores with aisles that graze one's nipples and shoulder blades really should not be allowed. They're a health hazard.

Kulio said...

THREE???

LUCKY.

We do an annual pilgrimage to the WF an hour away,
but since none of the food has any preservatives,
it's spoiled by the time we get home.

We forget too, and the next year...

sherri said...

the nipples wiping out the shelf in front of me comment made me snort. whole foods and the fresh market piss me off. and I love them too.

mommy4life said...

I also find it ironic that the SUV, and Whole Foods crowds are not mutually exclusive!

Fragrant Liar said...

There you are! I love Whole Foods. It's a store that fits me. Hey, I'm only 5'. More of a wallaby than a water buffalo. They are too expensive for me though. Nay, I'm actually too cheap for them. But I do love their teas and their lettuce and their olives, if you can clear the barge. And their cheeses. They have a lovely variety of cheese. I am totally shopping right now in my mind.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

We just got a whole foods store over here. It's huge. and so are its prices. But it has lots of stuff I want....

I am still waiting for a Trader Joe's.

And might I suggest you go over the hill to the valley and hit a Costoc ; -)

drc8151 said...

Here in DC, where real estate is quite pricey, our Whole Paycheck stores are of a generous size. I do love their cheeses and olives.

Lola said...

I don't have a Whole Foods near me now, but from what I remember from visiting the one in Chicago on Halsted & Waveland and the one in Evanston, IL to be way too spacious. The aisles were quite wide. Perhaps that's changed though, maybe they have more product since I went there several years ago. I did enjoy their Brown Rice and Spinach patties though. They were awesome.

Frau said...

Too funny we have none of these stores here. I'm more of a Costco big box store kinda gal.

Anna said...

Spot on!! I know exactly what you mean! I made the mistake of working in one of these shops when I was a student (don't judge me - I was DESPERATE) and managed to upset everyone by chomping down three cheeseburgers from MacDonalds in the staff room, next to the militant vegans. The shop was called Fresh & Wild and everyone who worked there was an activist of some kind, and of the aggressive variety too. And then me. :o)

Thanks for the giggle!

Anna
x

Lynn from For Love or Funny said...

I'm bummed. I don't have a Whole Foods nearby. I'd really like to experience the power of clearing off a shelf of canned goods with my nipples.

Maybe I'll just stand really close to the canned fruit in my Acme and give it a try...

The Wife O Riley said...

Those stores are tiny so that we can feel one with the organic soy milk.

The only cure for Whole Foods-itis is to go to Costco right afterwards and get the 800 count of Pizza Bites. There you will look like Lilly Tomlin in the grocery store scene in The Incredible Shrinking Woman.

kmoye said...

down here in the south everything is big (just think of our hair) so i guess that's why we don't have any whole foods stores.
on the plus side for you, i would count the nipple grazing as being felt up and thus maybe WF should buy you dinner or something.

The Blue Ridge Gal said...

ugh... I dislike stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes and find their product lines to be boring and nutty sort of Euell Gibbonish. Whenever I have been in one I have not even found it necessary to HAVE a cart.

DouglasDyer said...

I like your style, lady. I have to pop into our Whole Foods about twice a year because it gives me an undeserved rush of superiority. Then I buy a $5 muffin or something and get the hell out before I have to sell a kid.

IB said...

In an all out effort to shop-chic we made up a list, leveraged the equity in our home and went shopping at Whole Foods. It was like a little slice of yuppie heaven.

I noticed this morning we are again in need of a few items: Hand embossed TP, imported chutney, and 100 year-old balsamic vinegar, just to name a few. Oh well, so much for the boy's college fund.

Lynda said...

Love this post!

Laurel said...

Yep - Whole Pay Check we call it. Why can't they have decent bread I ask?

♥ Braja said...

My local WF was San Rafael. Everyone's livin' it large there, so maybe that's why I, also at 5'9", felt comfortable. Rich people obviously have better stores, right?

♥ Braja said...

And I love me some Trader Joe's....

Madtexter said...

As Mona Lisa Vito quipped in 'My Cousin Vinny': DEAD-ON-BALLS-ACCURATE!

When I lived in NYC, I thought WF shrink factor was indicative to limited space. Now, that I live in Atlanta, I see no difference.

And what kills me are the $4 organic red peppers. Suck it, Whole Foods!

But I'll be back, the masochist that I am.

Mary K Brennan said...

We don't have a Whole Foods yet, but it looks like I'm not missing anything. I'm 5'8 and a half, so I guess we're in the same category. I love my B.J.'s Warehouse. It's so big. I can even ride along on the cart with the kids. WEEE!

Tiggy said...

And how are the hideously obese supposed to shop for their tofu and whole-grains in a store like that?

Oh, hang on...

Beth said...

Just be careful to get regular Pop Tarts. Those Fiber One Pop Tarts will make you pay. But I see you have the large pack of toilet paper. Never mind.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

In the burbs of Northern VA, the Whole Foods are pretty big. But the carts are tiny. And their candy aisles? Non-existent. I find nothing more annoying than needing something sweet and findig nothing but carob.

Mammatalk said...

I used to shop at that Whole Foods in Brentwood. I lived in a condo off Bundy. I can totally relate!

Jennifer P. said...

I'm in the So.Cal. area about once a month and have never gone to Whole Foods; HOWEVER, I have made a few trips to a place called "Mothers"--which is apparently doing its best to recreate some sort of 3rd world grocery store. Everything is in a crate or barrell --- in fact, they probably would have named it that, except I think it's already taken.

Viva La Costco ;) !

Beth Kephart said...

So I did some local market research. Read your blog this morning, then went off to my own Whole Food. I can report a slenderizing approach to the aisles; I cannot, however, state with any degree of accuracy that my breasts unloaded cans of organic peaches to the floor. This is most likely the fault of my breasts, which are, like my mind, diminutive.

Thank you for yet another philosophical jaunt alongside your 5 foot nine self.

You impress, Lefler. Wherever you go.

Sarah K said...

only the skinny rich shop there to be seen, duu-uuh. i lived in chicago for 5 years, and never once went there. i didn't feel worthy. trader joe's on the other hand....come on!! who doesn't love a few bottles of 3 buck chuck? and you feel so...kitschy while shopping there! or like you need a margarita from margaritaville afterward.

you sound as though you are more chicago than LA, my friend.

FrankandMary said...

into thinking they've spent the afternoon buying carob-coated pumpkin seeds and miniature quiches in a cross between an Army PX and Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean ride.]

I've visited a Trader Joe's in Cali every time I was the guest of a childhood friend who lived there. A few people asked me what it was like. I...couldn't...come..up..with...quite..it. You are spot on. ~Mary

CaraBee said...

Lucky for me there isn't a Whole Foods within a reasonable distance of me. I know if there were, I would no doubt be suckered into going there on a regular basis.

JennKate said...

HILARIOUS. That's all i have to say.. this made my day.

Holly Noelle said...

The only Whole Foods I've been in was huge compared to the health food store I worked in. But, as a general rule, health food stores are very small compared to mainstream grocery stores. It can be a nice change of pace provided there's room to move around and a friendly staff.

TattooedMinivanMom said...

Oh my God to live inside that head of yours....even if it is massive.

AB HOME INTERIORS said...

HAHA Whole foods is an institution, until you move to the south. Then it's all smattered battered and fried! Popping in from SITS!

MommyTime said...

It is quite likely that the whole issue of scale is really about defrauding customers: this box of pasta is organic and only costs fifty cents more than my normal brand? A bargain! Until you figure out that it's actually 1/3 the size of your normal brand, which means it costs about four times as much. Small or large, I just don't find Whole Paycheck that appealing because I resent their prices. But I totally get that "maybe it's not so bad; I should give it another shot" thing. I am a sucker for that myself.

Jeanne said...

I live in a northern suburb of the city that has the highest per capita homicide rate in the nation, and NO Whole Foods. There is, however, an "old money" southern suburb that has a homegrown version of WF called Dorothy Lane Market. It has wonderful deli and baked goods and all kinds of cool stuff that Kroger's doesn't carry. It's fun to go in there to shop, unless they realize I'm from Riverside and the store dick starts to follow me around.

kathcom said...

I used to work in a health food store that resembled your photos. The aisles were skinny but they were tall, too. The air got thin at the top of the ladder I had to climb to restock while customers wended their way around me, rattling it and giving me an adrenaline spike to counteract my light-headedness.

The best part of the day was carrying my reeking KFC to the back on lunch break, inviting the stares of all the starving vegan shoppers.

I like to order organic groceries online so a big truck delivers them, wiping out any good I might have done the planet. That's just how I roll.

jubilee said...

I am thinking the marketer who thought up the small aisle ploy should be fired. If ya feel Amazonian when you are there, why would a person go?

I wanna feel petite when I shop - then I'd shop for more!

Ruthibelle said...

large and in charge

Maggie May said...

I love Whole Foods and the one near by in La Jolla is HUGE. Maybe it's psychological warfare they are using.

HermanTurnip said...

Whenever I find myself in a Whole Foods, I feel sorta out of place...like I really don't belong there, and everybody knows it. I'm looking for the Twinkies and the Coors and can feel everyone giving me the stinkeye.

And don't get me started on those huge tubs of seeds, chocolate, and assorted snacks. The last time I was there a saw a kid stick his melon of a head into one of those and sneeze.

http://terribleanalogies.com

Farmers Wife said...

So one doesn't go there to shop, but more for the experience??

Bee and Rose said...

LOL! I totally relate! I just knocked down a display at our Whole Foods trying to turn the corner to go up the next aisle! The idiot clerk yelled at me! I tried to explain that since there were no signs posted about the dangerous cart conditions, that he should just zip it and get to cleaning up! lol! I left my cart (filled) and went down the street to Trader Joe's.

Merrily Down the Stream said...

Hello Girlfriend! You forgot to right about the whole price thing... The smaller the bag - the heftier the price - it's weird!

Lizzie said...

i always wondered if i was the only one who noticed this!!! Thanks for reaffirming my non-craziness. or should i flip that and say "welcome to crazy land!" :)

Rick said...

I learned many years ago that there is only one answer to the question, "Does this make me look fat?" No! Always no!! You look great in that cereal isle.

When Pigs Fly said...

Love this post. Thinking about writing one on Costco from the opposite perspective. Your description of Trader Joe's is spot on. I have little patience for either store. You did not comment on the offensively expensive prices. By the time you have filled up your cart for a family of four you could have paid most people's mortgages.

♥ bfs - Mimi ♥ said...

♥ Whole Foods! But ours is an hour away. Gotta hate that!!

Coffee with Cathy said...

I am so jealous that you're equidistant from three Whole Foods. Our nearest one -- Birmingham, Alabama -- is 2 1/2 hours away. Not that I've ever driven that far just to shop at Whole Foods. That would be wrong. It's a huge warehouse-like one, too, with plenty of room for more than one person per aisle. However, the one in Franklin, Tennessee, seems like a Fisher-Price playhouse in comparison.

MuseSwings said...

Sidesplitting!!!! But seriously - do you recall sideswiping the wildebeest in aislette .07? that was me dag nab it. Broke two of my plover sized chicken eggs in the mishap.

Swirl Girl said...

like shopping at with a fun house mirror...designed to make big people smaller and small people bigger.

that is why I opt for mail order...

mub said...

Haha, I laughed so hard reading this! Grocery stores in Europe make me feel like that, but I'm not a small person myself!

foxy said...

You are soooooo funny. Came over from SITS and have decided to stay... thanks for the good laughs!! :)

Organic Meatbag said...

I have one of those fat guy party shirts, and therefore, I think that qualifies me to make a comment here... splotchy asses make mingled gasses...

barbsblast said...

So true and so funny! only tediously thin people (usually die-hard vegans) can shop there... In L.A.,maybe we should call it "A-Whole Foods?" BTW I'd kill for a cinnamon pop-tart.

Shari said...

I laughed out loud so many times reading this that my husband actually looked away from the TV to ask me what was wrong. The olive barge and the floor cracking under your bovine-ness were the best. I really really want to shop with you now.

The Empress said...

You don't know how funny you are.

You just can't know.

You always make me laugh out loud at least once...a real laugh out loud. Not a computer initials LOL. But the real kind.

You, your nipples...I get claustrophobic just thinking about those tiny narrow stacked high aisles.....not a good thing.

meleah rebeccah said...

And I thought I was the only one who thinks Whole Foods aisles are way too narrow!

Inked said...

I'll admit I have large nips for a man, but I don't have this problem.

Tug said...

I've never been to a Whole Foods, but now that I know I'll get some nipple action I'm heading that way!

Jennifer said...

When I walk into their store I'm pretty sure their BMI alarm goes off. Then everyone is alerted. Around every corner a worker spy peers into my cart and asks "Can I help you? (find everything under 200 calories)" You only think they're being helpful. Once the 16th person does this in a row? Know it's their plan. Their plan to make you fit in their store. @TheNextMartha

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Listen To Your Mother Show- Austin said...

Hilarious. Come to the flagship store in Austin & you'll feel much better.

And TJ's IS like an Army PX. No wonder I always unconsciously start marching in the produce section.

When Pigs Fly said...

The closest Whole Foods around here is near downtown. Really it's not that far but enough not to make it worth it to me to go. And, it's for these very reasons. You forgot to add that for that lunch sack size of a bag you left with, it cost more than most people's rent. I always pine for Whole Foods and then when I actually get there it's a huge pain in the ass. I too need to live large.

MOLLYC said...

I feel like I am on vacation at Trader Joe's, with all the Hawaiian shirts...we don't have a Whole Foods here. We are way to small and provincial. But I have been to one in Los Angeles. But out in LA, I AM FAT. molly

Tarja said...

This was genius. Seriously. The whole thing about the parking? So true! All of those effing organic Prius owners trying to mow you down in fits of road-rage! And this week? I was looking for golden raisins - and was forced to buy a package of 10 (raisins) from HIMALAYA. No joke.

But silly, Anna! Whole Foods doesn't sell Tic-Tacs. Mint-flavored quinoa, yes.

Tommiegurl said...

I've never been to a whole foods and thanks to you I will not go to one becasue I too have a butt and do not want to knock things off the the sheleves!!!

Erin said...

This is the second time I've read this in a week, and it just gets funnier. Like a Roseanne episode.

Banana Freud said...

I'm with you - when grocery shopping I need my elbow room - and my giant packs of toilet paper. None of that one roll at a time biz.

HumorSmith said...

I loved the whole thing, Anna. Get it? "Whole"? I crack me up.

HermanTurnip said...

I have *totally* noticed how small their parking lot are. But for 2-Buck Chuck I'm willing to ignore such oversights. And hey, you can't complain about the music they play on their overhead speakers. It kicks the arse over any of the chain store musak offerings...

HermanTurnip said...

Whole Food stores have some great products but they are small. The wife and I took our first trip to Costco this past weekend, and our lives will never be the same. Pure gluttony on display, and I enjoy every second of it!

To tweak a phrase: "How are you going to keep them down at Whole Foods after they've seen Costco?"

4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle said...

just found you and I'm not sure what I like better, your writing or your moustache.

Great blog, come over and say Hi if you get a minute, we're in Qatar.

Kirsty

stayingcrazy.com said...

Another odd feature to Whole Foods - every greeting card they sell has a picture of a unicorn on it, even the ones that address the topic of death. And if your friend's brother was run over by a logging truck, I'm not sure drawings of a mythical horse-creature is what will comfort him.

monicastangledweb.com said...

You know, I never really thought about it, but reading your post, I have to agree: the Whole Foods aisles are teeny. What were they thinking, except maybe trying to take advantage of every square inch of retail space. Well, I love your take on it and I'm all for humor. Glad to have discovered you on She Writes! :)

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