OKEMOS — Two weeks ago, Meridian Township welcomed a new organic food market. On April 13, Whole Foods Market opened its doors for the first time, making it the first Lansing-area Whole Foods, and their seventh Michigan store. With the growing criticism of processed foods, organic food markets are well on their way to becoming a main-stay trend.
“[Organic food shopping] definitely will become a lot more popular, it’s a lot healthier,” Barb Vuillemot, a shopper at Foods for Living in Meridian Township, said. “Right now, it’s still not mainstream, so it makes it harder for people to find. They have to go out their way.”
Since its opening, Whole Foods Market, located at 2750 E. Grand River Ave., has welcomed over thousands of customers, some who are avid organic shoppers, and some who are simply coming to check out what everyone is talking about.
“I wasn’t really waiting for it to open, I just came to see what it was all about, I don’t know if I’ll come back,” local Susan Fiorillo said, motioning to her basket insinuating that the decision would be made after this trip was done.
Across the street is another, smaller, organic food store, Foods for Living. Vuillemot believes Whole Foods will take business away from them for a little while, but eventually loyal customers will return.
“I don’t see how they can’t [take business from Foods for Living], but I think people will come back here,” Vuillemot said
Taylor Downs, a student at Michigan State University, says one of the other major problems with organic food markets, especially Whole Foods, is how expensive they are.
“This is my first time here, and I can’t afford like anything, so this will probably be my first and only time coming here,” she said. “It’s cool for people who can afford this kind of stuff, but for college kids its not really a feasible choice.”
Downs, who has shopped at other organic food markets including Foods for Living in the past, believes that because of the growing competition Foods for Living will still have good competition.
“I think that Foods for Living is going to do okay because it’s a smaller-based business,” Downs said. “I think that people are still going to stay loyal to that because it’s been here for so long, at least I hope so.”
Whole Foods, on the other hand, isn’t worried about the competition at all, Store Team Manager Sarah Tack said.
“We’re not worried about the competition,” Tack said. “What we offer is different than other place. We have the bar and smokehouse meats and other things. We’re different enough to attract certain people.”
Tack says there are no plans right for another Whole Foods Market in the area, but doesn’t think organic food markets are a passing trend.
“People are still going to be interested in these organic food and products,” Tack said.
Vuillemot believes, in order to keep up with Whole Foods competition, Food for Living should simply keep doing what they are doing and capitalize on their advantages.
“[Foods for Living] should get the name out there, and just keep doing what they’re doing.” Vuillemot said. “I mean they have good service, they’re helpful, they’re knowledgeable and I bet they’re a lot more knowledgable than the people who work over there [at Whole Foods].”
Foods for Living chose not to comment on the situation.