Here are my “arm[less]chair thoughts” about the Whole Foods Acquisition by Amazon touching on a bit of local economics, and company culture. Of course, it’s perspective from an attentive layperson’s point of view informed by how Whole Foods established its location in Detroit ever since their announcement to the Detroit Economic Club (I once-upon-a-time was a member of the American Economic Association and University’s Economics Club).
I’m probably missing some nuances that other people might know as someone who worked within the company so please do chime in especially if I’m off-base:
Maybe we’ll also see echoes of the book industry happen within an online version of Whole Foods. IKEA, the Swedish Walmart of Furniture and meatballs, is pondering if not testing what would happen if their business went on Amazon too (see this aptly named INC. article: “And Then Suddenly Ikea was like, ‘Wait. What if We Just Sell All Our Stuff on Amazon?”.
What it means for the rest of people who really care about localized/organic/co-operative/whatever food is that the smaller businesses and local suppliers will need to organize so that they’re able to coordinate and keep a place at the policy table when decisions are being made municipally, state-wide, and nationally because a major monopoly-scale industry will likely write the legislation.
Amazon vs. Brick and Mortar community impacts
Amazon Labor Practices
We should note that a lot can change in a few years, especially in a company with high employee turnover. The following articles may point to trends from the past instead of current practice so in some modicum of fairness, I also included their INDEED reviews.
Amazon & Sears Under Investigation for Labor Violations, 2016:
Workers expected to strike in Germany:
Amazon’s Expansion & how it affects jobs–note, we run into the quality of work/quantity and efficiency of labor spectrum debate in some of the ILSR’s arguments:
A view on how both mom & pop + big box retailers might co-exist (depending on conditions)
“Been-Ups instead of Start-Ups”
The “Dark Store” economic/legal taxation tactic: exploit old property for unfair tax advantages that benefit major big box companies regardless of impact on the local community. As seen in places like Sault St. Marie, MI:
Other “Dark Store” coverage in Michigan:
On what’s not working with Michigan’s municipal financial system:
Update: a similar case is going to the MI Supreme Court
Some folks think big box businesses don’t hurt small businesses, I’ll disagree to an extent but see where they’re coming from.
Featured photo of an organic pesto pizza–not from Whole Foods, but it looks like something you might buy from them. It’s from family-owned Silvio’s Organic Pizza in Ann Arbor. Disclosure: I occasionally play gigs at this restaurant but was not sponsored to promote them in this post.