Friday, February 12, 2010


On this visit, we had only three days in Austin.  Not enough time to do much of anything,  even less since half that time was spent in the rain, with temperatures close to freezing.  We needed to distill our wish list down to its essence!

Number one on my list was a visit to the Whole Foods headquarters store.  Odel dropped me off this morning at 10:15, then he drove on to visit with his friend Harry.  I thought I’d take a walk through Whole Foods, take note of any special items I wanted to pick up, then visit BookPeople (Austin’s best known independent book seller), maybe browse through REI… all of these stores are at the same intersection of Lamar and 6th St.  I’d spend about an hour in the other shops, and have an hour in Whole Foods before Odel came back to pick me up.

After my first 10 minutes in Whole Foods, it was obvious to me that I wouldn’t be leaving  until Odel arrived!  I went back to the door, snagged a cart, and began a thorough, aisle by aisle examination of the goods.

Varieties of Salt Candied apples

Above: A multitude of salt colors and flavors.

Below: Prepared foods in the deli case.

Above: Candied apples for Valentine’s Day.

Below: Display samples of loose bulk teas.

Prepared foods Loose Tea Bar

As I wandered and examined, I stopped from time to time to take a picture, keeping my camera in my pocket, close at hand.  By the time I got to the far end of the store, with 8 items in my basket, I had taken a couple dozen photos.  As I snapped another (the green beans above), a friendly staffer came over, tapped my shoulder, and told me photos weren’t allowed without prior permission from customer service!  HUH?  Well, no matter.  By then, I had all the photos I wanted, so didn’t bother getting permission.  :)

Pizza by the slice

Above: Pizza by the slice (my lunch).         Below: Looking across the wine department.

Wine Display

Above: The bakery display.                 Below: One half of the salad bar.

Salad Bar

Looking at these photos now, it seems as though the store was empty of shoppers.  Nothing could be farther from the truth!  I dodged left and right trying to get a clear shot, and cropped the edges to remove those who barreled into my frame.  Even when I arrived, the store was bustling; by lunch time it was jammed, especially the many prepared food counters.  It felt like the beating heart of Austin’s downtown cool – and the hip and trendy shoppers (I was not part of that demographic) were as interesting as the unusual goods on the shelves.

My purchases?  A couple of ounces each of three loose teas; a cute new mug; The Whole Foods Market Cookbook; two kinds of cheese that I rarely see elsewhere, and a little container of Lemon Sea Salt Flakes (the gorgeous yellow color, the texture, and the recipe for pasta with lemon sauce sold me).

Two hours gone by in the blink of an eye!

We have a busy day tomorrow.  If the rain hasn’t returned in the morning, we hope to get out on the trails in the park for another walk, then we are meeting blog readers and Austin residents Mac and Dianna for a trip to legendary Smitty’s in Lockhart for BBQ lunch.  Checkout time here is 2 pm – by then we will be on the road west again, to Kerrville for a visit with our friend Gloria over the weekend. 

Later, friends.


  1. This store looks so interesting. The bakery section reminds me of the european bakeries with the endless kinds of crispy freshly cooked breads and endless type of pastry. I can almost smell the freshness.

  2. I could spend a weekend in that store. What a treasure!

  3. I would love to shop there, and I thought my first recent visit to Trader Joe's was

    I did shop briefly at a Whole Foods store in Vancouver years ago...where I bought my first cloth shopping bag!

    Thanks for "reporting" and snapping some visual proof along the way..
    Take care,

  4. Last night, at a gallery opening, I picked up a flyer for Whole Foods (Sacramento/Roseville) that listed the "Whole Foods Market Value Tour" to educate shoppers: "You'll discover you can afford to shop Whole Foods on a budget." I laughed to myself, thinking that it's never the basics at WH that get me, it's all the other marvelous stuff....

  5. Wow... what an interesting place! I will take 2 of the candied apples, a slew of those beans, and we will browse the wine aisles and take a case of assorted bottles please. LOL ... Thanks for showing us what one of those places looks like on the inside. Good thing they didn't confiscate your camera ?!?!?!?

    Karen and Steve

  6. Elaine, it happened that I had just shopped at both Costco and HEB, a big, nice grocery store chain here in Texas. I like to buy the Seeds of Change brand precooked, microwaveable rices and pilafs, and they are available at all three stores. Costco: just shy of $8 for four bags, so under $2 each. HEB (and many other grocery stores): $2.89 each. Whole Foods: 2/$6 ON SALE!

    Like you, I can't imagine shopping Whole Foods for basics. I go there to indulge my hobby of ingredient shopping, looking for those items (like Lemon Sea Salt Flakes) that I'm not likely to run across elsewhere. :) It always ends up costly - but seems cheaper than many hobbies.

  7. This was a special read for this 'foodie'! I love anything that pertains to food shopping and browsing. Thanks for sharing.