Even though supermarket chains have mostly eliminated small grocers from neighborhoods, they can’t eliminate the need for them. Whole Foods should really borrow a page from Apple’s playbook and open Whole Foods mini-stores in neighborhoods and dense urban areas. A small neighborhood Whole Foods could be the perfect place for basics (milk and soy milk, eggs, O.J.), a pre-made sandwich, some produce, cheese, wine, perhaps a small meat or fish counter, and, of course, fresh bread and pastries.
In Washington, DC the chain Marvelous Market has done this, and I know from experience how convenient they are. However, Marvelous Market focuses on bread, deserts (they make amazing brownies), and a few other posh items, but lacks produce or basics like milk and eggs. Whole Foods could easily supply the posh chesses, breads, and baked goods, but also the milk and eggs range of products.
I’d love to see Whole Foods try something like this. Utilizing small spaces that customers can walk is consistent with their philosophy that urges them to reduce energy and promote locally grown products. Also, while Whole Foods purchases energy credits to offset the energy use of each of their stores, I don’t believe they offset the energy to build their enormous stores. It seems that by renovating existing spaces for smaller stores, they can create a new store with a much smaller environmental impact that would be incredibly convenient to customers.