A Fresh Sound: Whole Foods Starts Selling Records

GMO-free vinyl now spinning at select Whole Foods

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Record store day

There’s something new in the Whole Foods aisles: records.

The company opened record shops last week inside five of their 340 locations, which means that you can now pick up quinoa, kale and, yes, vinyl at the grocery store.

The five southern California branches offer records sure to appeal to the stereotypical Whole Foods shopper: Frank Sinatra, Daft Punk, Rolling Stones, Paramore, Bob Marley and Tegan and Sara, just to name a few. The stores will also be selling LSTN Headphones, from a company that works on the TOMS shoe model. For every pair of headphones sold, LSTN helps restore hearing to a person in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

The grocery store may have taken the sales cue from two other retailers who like to view themselves as purveyors of alt-cool, Starbucks and Urban Outfitters. Both retail giants have moonlighted in the music business for years, Starbucks with their omnipresent register-side CDs and Urban Outfitters is knee-deep in vinyl sales (In fact, Urban Outfitters has become one of the nation’s largest retailers of records).

(MORE40 Years of Music Industry History in Less than a Minute)

The move could prove a business boon for Whole Foods: Music industry profits overall are were iffy last year, but vinyl saw a 19 percent upswing in sales. It’s unlikely that the record stores will provide a significant financial boost to Whole Foods’ substantial bottom line ($11.7 billion in sales last year), but it does give the retailer an interesting branding shift. Adding records helps move the chain from a grocery store to a lifestyle brand. Patrons don’t have to stop at healthy lunches; instead, they can buy into an alternative lifestyle, all available at Whole Foods, from the TOMS on their feet to the organic hair products on their heads to the Tegan and Sara albums spinning on their turntables.

Or in the words of Mike Bowen, Whole Foods Market executive coordinator: “This launch isn’t just about stocking our shelves with something new and different — it’s about listening to our shoppers and giving them access to the things they want — whether it’s their favorite cheese or their favorite way to enjoy music.”

(MORE: Revenue Up, Piracy Down: Has the Music Industry Finally Turned a Corner?)

63 comments
miovaroe
miovaroe

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swat12
swat12

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omarjefferson
omarjefferson

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TAC-MAN
TAC-MAN

What's wrong with CDs ?

RangerDanParsons
RangerDanParsons

I get mine from Salvation Army. Quarter apiece, everything from Hank Williams to Sun Ra.

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

@RangerDanParsons 

Probably some great finds there, but many are not in great condition.  Sometimes people find things like vintage speakers at amazing prices there too,

a.navin.johnson
a.navin.johnson

Records are on an upswing and my personal collection of 45rpm records has gone from 1500 to over 3000 in the last year! Records make you "engaged" with the music you are listening to. You can't start an ipod with a playlist of 1000 tracks and walk away. You have to be there, listen, then change the record. You have to take it out of the sleeve and place it on the turntable and lower the stylus. You have to be THERE. It allows you to appreciate the music more. IMHO anyway! 

RangerDanParsons
RangerDanParsons

I do it your way often. I bought a collection (20 records) of old 78rpm blues records at Salvation Army last year for five bucks, a 1940's four record set from Roy Rogers, signed, for a dollar, and two Jack Scott rockabilly albums. There are millions of great old vinyl out there.

RobertVergas
RobertVergas

I really miss the cafe at the Whole Foods in Oakland.  I think Whole Foods closed all the cafes, where we could get the Grateful Bowl for whatever we felt like contributing that day.  I am going to be  upset when I go to Whole Foods in Oakland to see the space that has been off limits since the cafe was forced to close has now been transformed into a mini Tower Records.  I always understood having a record dept in a department store, but I do not get the concept of records in a grocery store.  When I am there, I am thinking about what I will eat for dinner that night; I am not thinking about what vinyl disc I would like to play while eating.  Bring back the cafes.

MikeLand
MikeLand

Vinyl is fine but I like 4 track reel to reel tapes.  That's some nice fidelity for you.  I used to order them from RCA Music Club back in the 80's.  I only have a few left after mom sold most of them at garage sales.  Hey kids, when you go to college take everything with you.  If you don't have room, spend some money on a storage building.  If you can't afford that, ask a friend who has a large room and goes home on the weekend.  For me, I lost my room to siblings so that's why I lost my collection.

JoeBlowski
JoeBlowski

@MikeLand four-tracks are good, but if you really want to get to the heart of the music you need the wax cylinder. 

DoobieBrothers
DoobieBrothers

Just stay out of my way, and don't block the isle. This is a place to purchase food. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?

fawmeopfw
fawmeopfw

The multibillion-dollar organic food industry is the biggest scam in the history of mass food production. It's scientifically proven to have ZERO benefit in safety or quality. Their marketing machine and lobbyists keep the ignorant sheep thinking otherwise. Throwing a higher price tag on something doesn't make it better.

Audie
Audie

@fawmeopfw Source? Cutting out processed food has saved my life (physically and mentally), so I would love to read why eating organic, even from my own garden, is a fraud. Thanks.

minuano8787
minuano8787

Whatever.  You don't even remotely understand the science... as usual.  A bigger number, to you, equals a rip off.  You get what you pay for.  Enjoy your Kraft mac and cheese tonight.  How many ingredients in that?

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

@fawmeopfw 

I doubt not consuming pesticides has "zero benefits".  The price to benefit ratio is the only real debate.

RangerDanParsons
RangerDanParsons

He said, as he ate his sawdust with imitation cheese sauce for dinner again.

HulonPate
HulonPate

Most of which is overly priced reissued Lp's for 25-35 Dollars.

TootaLou
TootaLou

Now if they just start selling pot, I'm all set.

DoobieBrothers
DoobieBrothers

@TootaLou Then they would only sell pot and Doritos. Lots and lots of Doritos. Delicious Doritos. Lots.

dibeling
dibeling

"Whole Paycheck" as I like to call them

cpc65
cpc65

Next decade will see the return of 8-tacks, followed by the 5 1/4" floppy disc for PCs. 

raymond131387
raymond131387

@cpc65  What do those have to do with records ??   Yes, absolutely nothing.

RangerDanParsons
RangerDanParsons

What, no four tracks? I must have been the only fool to buy a four track player for my car. Some wise guy got the idea to actually recording on the other side of the tape too, and make my Grateful Dead four tracks null and void.

mahadragon
mahadragon

I can't believe people still have record players in 2013. Even if I had a record player I would not buy a record. Records are remarkably fragile, despite the fact they sound better than CD's. Leave a record out in the sun for 30 minutes and see if you can still play it.

DanSpeca
DanSpeca

@mahadragonwhy would you leave a record in the sun for 30 minutes? take care of your things and they will last...

raymond131387
raymond131387

@mahadragon  : I can't believe people make entirely stupid comments regarding things they obviously know absolutely nothing about.

DoobieBrothers
DoobieBrothers

I like ice cream, and I would never, never, leave it in the sun for 30 minutes.