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About Whole Foods
Foods Market Inc.
is an American
that opened on
September 20, 1980, in
headquarters. As of September 2015, the company has 91,000 employees and 431 supermarkets among the United States,
Canada, and the United Kingdom,
and has its main
produce procurement office in
As of 2015,
are co-CEOs of the
publicly traded company, with John Elstrott as chairman.
Whole Foods Market
became a Fortune
company in March 2005
and is the 30th largest retailer in the U.S. based on 2014 revenue.
The company is consistently
ranked among the most socially responsible businesses and placed third on the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency's list of Top 25 Green Power Partners.
In 1978, 25-year-old college
dropout John Mackey and his 21-year-old girlfriend Rene
Lawson, borrowed $45,000 from family and friends to open a small natural foods store called SaferWay
in Austin, Texas (the name being a spoof
of Safeway). When the couple was evicted from their
apartment for storing food products in it, they decided to live at the store. Because it was zoned for
commercial use, there was no shower stall, so they bathed using a water hose attached to their
Two years later, John Mackey partnered with Craig Weller and
Mark Skiles to merge SaferWay with their Clarksville Natural Grocery, resulting in the opening of the original
Whole Foods Market on September 20, 1980. At 12,500 square feet (1,160 m2) and with a staff of 19, the store was quite large in
comparison to the standard health food store of the time.
Less than a year later, on
Memorial Day in 1981, the most damaging flood in 70 years devastated the city of Austin. Caught in the flood
waters, the store’s inventory was wiped out, and most of the equipment was damaged. The losses were approximately
$400,000, and Whole Foods Market had no insurance. Customers, neighbors, and staff pitched in to repair and clean
up the damage. Creditors, vendors, and investors all assisted in helping the store recover, and it reopened 28 days
after the flood.
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