Did you guess right away where I was going with this? I’ll cut to the chase:

Whole Foods Market. While attending a Halloween-themed class on cheese and wine pairings, of course – I was observing the employees hard at work.

Those who attend culinary schools more than likely imagine themselves in a fine dining environment, and maybe not so much in retail of a food market. However, it can be a good match. A trained palate can serve very well in a variety of arenas.

Combine food knowledge with personality, people skills and high energy! A winning combination for such marketing events (i.e. classes) to welcome attendees, recognize them, invite questions and make it all fun, while positioned in the department that features all the accompaniments such as the featured cheeses (and then some) the crackers and other delicacies. We taste. We like. We may buy.

That was just the cheese. Partner that with a skilled beverage pro that can select wines (and ciders) to pair with the cheeses and fruits; create mulled drinks and other cocktails, and all not too far away from the liquor department.

Pass around the yet-to-be opened packages of all to-be-tasted treats to let us see what they look like, hear the price, the specials, and other options while this fun learning opportunity (holidays are coming) is turning us into ‘customers.’ A team-based activity and effort that is inherent to the culture at Whole Foods Market.

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Brilliant marketing!

But let’s talk working there…”I’ve heard” that the pay is not so great and it may be difficult to transfer from one department to another, or especially another location.

They are highly competitive, internally.  They are very much team-based. So, if one is more of a loner, or prefers more solitary work, then WFM may not be a fit. Being open and trustworthy are other characteristics of the work culture, and of course, whom they hire.

Granted, this is a retail environment, but reasonable hours – not a 24/7 operation so that works well for many. It is a people and community focused workplace.

So, I attended to experience their efforts on promoting wine and cheeses, and ideas – and all was good; even great! Yet, at the same time, I was observing what is most likely a marketing business model and the employees in action who make it a seemingly great place to work!

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