New Whole Foods Market in Melrose MA

When I received my receipt from my last purchase at the local Whole Foods Market, there was also an attached coupon for $10 off $50 purchase at one of two new Whole Foods Massachusetts stores (Melrose and Weymouth).

Of course I wanted to check out the closest one in Melrose, so I planned a shopping trip on Friday, which was also their one-day sale for Alaskan Coho salmon ($10/lb).

I knew the Melrose location was previously a Johnnie’s Foodmaster store, so I wasn’t sure how large the store would be, in comparison to other stores. As I suspected, it is smaller, and crowded, especially when trying to navigate a shopping cart in the produce area, during lunchtime on a Friday.

If the produce area wasn’t cramped enough, the “bulk” section is also situated in the same isle, which makes it very difficult to get near with a cart; same with the salad/food bar on the other side of the store. But I was patient, and just went with the flow.

The employees (or team members) were extremely nice, which made up for the lack of space. I had a lovely conversation with the man behind the fish counter about salmon pin bones, and the woman who helped me with my probiotics return/refund was very cheery.

I was disappointed though, when I arrived at check-out and the cashier gave me a little bit of attitude. I always put my poultry and meat purchases in one particular re-usable shopping bag, and I’ve never had any issues at the stores when I leave the meat inside the bag. The cashiers (even newbie ones) usually understand the process and scan each item from the bag then pack them back into my bag afterward.

Well this particular cashier proceeded to unpack all my poultry items onto the belt, coming inches close to my produce. I became annoyed, and told her that I didn’t want the meat touching/contaminating my other items, to which she rudely proclaimed that my fish was already touching the items (as if it was MY fault), and I told her it wasn’t the same as poultry, and that I wasn’t worried about the fish. I never raised my voice, and I didn’t take the issue further, but I could tell that she was not happy with me as she scanned the rest of my items.

If she just left my poultry in the bag, she could have easily scanned each piece and simply re-packed, like the dozens of other cashiers have done. But instead she was rude.

I’m not out to get her into trouble, and I am not one of those entitled shoppers that think customer service workers need to kiss up to me. (In fact, I really hate that!) But in this case, a little bit of the “customer-is-always-right” should have come into play.

I spend a lot of money on my groceries, and I choose specific items (especially perishable produce) very carefully, so I expect the food to arrive into my home in the same condition that I chose it. (Not covered in poultry bacteria.)

She should have seen that the situation upset me, and immediately tried to make it right, instead she tried to prove me wrong. It was something I rarely ever encounter at Whole Foods Market. They do a remarkable job at defusing any customer issues before they escalate.

But all in all, the experience was positive at this new store and I was thrilled to use my $10 off coupon!

It makes me happy that the Melrose area now has a Whole Foods, as it’ll be a benefit to the community. It was also wonderful to see local produce being sold there, but at the same time, I would rather consumers support their local farmers directly at a farmstand or farmers market.

But if shopping at Whole Foods is the first step in getting people to consciously eat more local produce, then that is what matters. The next natural step will then be seeking out a farmers market or buying into a CSA.

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