April 24, 2008

2 Min Read

Whole Foods expands organic soft goods
Clothes in the grocery store? It works for Whole Foods Market, which has plans to roll out expanded sets of organic soft goods and even open a stand-alone natural living store in West Hollywood, Calif.

Clothing for men and women, baby goods, bed and bath products and table linens have sold like hotcakes at Whole Foods? flagship Austin, Texas, store, says Jet Baker, who supervises the section. Success in Austin has prompted Whole Foods to add organic cotton apparel in 120 stores before Christmas, Baker says.

?We view this as a perishable product,? he told a seminar audience Sept. 15 at Natural Products Expo East. Small quantities and frequent updates encourage shoppers to ?buy now,? he says. A dedicated changing room (not a bathroom) makes the clothes easy to buy.

Marci Zaroff, founder of Boca Raton, Fla.-based organic clothing retailer Under the Canopy, suggests merchandising to make a statement, even if it?s just a 4-foot set. ?When you do splashes here and there, you don?t get the consistent impact,? she says.

Whole Foods carries more than 20 organic soft good brands, including Maggie?s, Green Baby, Under the Canopy and Of the Earth. Patagonia sweaters and ponchos ?were just gobbled up,? Baker says.

Food is fuel
Here?s proof that small-town retailers must be resourceful. At Jill?s Hinckley Mobil in Hinckley, Minn., the assortment ranges from high-test gas and 24-hour towing to organic groceries and EO personal care products.

Seventy miles north of Minneapolis-St. Paul, just off Interstate 35, Hinckley attracts kayakers to the wild and scenic Kettle River, campers to a 33,000-acre state park along the St. Croix River, and cyclists and snowmobilers with a 70-mile paved path that runs all the way to Duluth. And no, live bait is offered neither as ?low carb? nor ?organic food?—even though it may kinda sorta be both.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVI/number 11/p. 14

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