When the sun comes up over Santa Monica boulevard (hated song spinning in my head) around Halloween, it will shine on a new Whole Foods store that won't sell anything you can eat—unless rosa mosqueta face lotion counts. Instead, the Austin, TX-based chain's "lifestyle" shop will be stocked with household wares, clothes, books, music, and other green dry goods that are easy to find online but not on the street. Will Whole Foods conquer the world? It's coming to London.
Sustainablog wonders if Whole Foods is the first green superstore, putting to shame Wal-Mart's dabbling in sustainably-built megacenters.
On a related note, rumors are buzzing that Rainbow Grocery, a vegetarian wonderland in San Francisco, is thinking about opening a biodiesel fueling station. Green fuel isn't a sure thing for Rainbow, but Mission District-dwellers who drive 1980s-era diesel Mercedes would readily fill up their shopping carts and their cars there. Pit stops to fuel both bellies and gas tanks have deep American roots. Mini-McDonald's and BP gas stations share the same space. Might as well take that tradition to the next, cleaner level. But there are concerns that one-stop Goliath shops will corporatize the quirky, once-cozy sustainable marketplace.
Since it opened 30 years ago as the offshoot of an ashram, Rainbow has been at the forefront of the natural foods movement, for which the $130-per-stock-share Whole Foods can be grateful. Rainbow even uses solar panels and gives each worker a stake in the operations. The store's site points out:
Interestingly, the natural foods business has become a competitive industry, one that strongly mimics the industrial agribusiness complex against which many of the first community food stores rebelled.
The same thing will surely happen with alternative fuels as they become mainstream. But without becoming mainstream, cleaner technologies can't do massive good. Hopefully, boutiques can always backlash against the megastore mentality. One good sign is that organic co-ops are enjoying big success.