Jill Layton
June 01, 2016 11:59 am
Bloomberg/ Getty Images

The best part of Whole Foods is pretty much everything. The packaged foods, the beverage options, the salad bar and the juice bar make the trendy grocery store a hit among people who are looking for a wide variety of nutritional deliciousness.

But there’s one thing about Whole Foods that isn’t so great — the prices. They’re ridiculously steep. Like, one bag of groceries can cost upwards of $100. So for people who love everything Whole Foods has to offer but aren’t interested taking out a loan just to pay for groceries, we feel you.

Which is why we’re so excited about 365 by Whole Foods Market — a smaller, more affordable spinoff of the Whole Foods we’re all used to. 365 stocks only a quarter of the products a regular Whole Foods stocks — but what they do have is delicious and targeted to our age group. There are 19 stores in development, all of which are designed to appeal to millennials or people who have a “millennial mind-set,” according to The New Yorker

The first market recently opened in Silver Lake, California, and things seem to be off to a great start. There are far fewer employees, which we assume helps to keep the cost of merchandise down. For example, the cheese and meat departments are unmanned, making it a DIY grocery store experience. And many of the vegetables come pre-cut — Trader Joe’s style. It’s meant to feel like customers can just help themselves (of course there are plenty of employees on-hand in case you need help with anything — it’s not a complete free-for-all).

Bloomberg/ Getty Images

Narrowing in on the millennial mind-set, the wine-and-spirits section has the option to scan a bottle’s bar code to read user-generated comments/reviews about that particular bottle. So if you’re interested in a certain wine, but have never tried it, there are sure to be plenty of people who have and who offered their opinions.

It seems like each new market will also have a Juicero — which is basically the Nespresso of juicing — as well as a Teabot — a loose-tea machine that creates custom tea blends from a tablet. The tablet allows you to choose component leaves, caffeine intensity and water temperature — or if that’s too much to think about, you can simply choose a tea that’s trending.

Two additional locations in Lake Oswego, Oregon and Bellevue, Washington are scheduled to open in 2016, and up to 10 stores are expected to open in 2017.

It sounds like the main focus of 365 by Whole Foods is to make the customer’s experience easy, organized, less expensive and independent of employee interference. We’re on board.