retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Grub Street reports that when Whole Foods opened its new Bryant Park location in New York City, it featured something new to the company - "the first-ever 'produce butcher,' a person who’d like nothing more than to delicately clean and de-stem your lacinato."

According to the story, "Shoppers too lazy to cut their own onions can plop them on the cutting board of this poor employee, who must 'cut, slice, dice, julienne, chop, and grate any produce item at a shopper’s request'."

The service isn't free - it costs a buck a pound.

It also isn't actually the first of its kind: "Eataly actually invented this gig seven years ago. Food-performance artist Jennifer Rubell half-jokingly suggested it to Mario Batali, who promptly installed her at a station peeling carrots and trimming artichokes. The service is now Rubell-less, but is available free of charge in multiple Eatalys, and is still taken very seriously over there — one former veggie butcher is such an expert that she’s published a book on the topic."

Still, the produce butcher is an interesting innovation. The question is whether the concept is ripe for expansion into other stores ... and whether it does anything to address the competitive problems from which Whole Foods recently has been suffering.

The answer may be an Eye-Opener. (And we'll have more on this later in the week...)
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