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About Whole Foods
Market (NASDAQ: WFMI) is a foods supermarket chain based in Austin, Texas which emphasizes "natural" and organic products. As of September
2009[update], the company operates 302 stores: 291 stores in 38 U.S. states and the
District of Columbia; six stores in Canada; and five stores in the United
The company is consistently ranked
among the most socially responsible businesses and placed third on the U.S. Environmental Protection
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.