Whole Foods Market, the nation’s largest certified organic retail chain, has always been ahead of its time. And now it seems the chain has also taken a step slightly backwards into a bygone era: selling records.
Cruise through the aisles of Whole Foods and you may find your head bopping and hips swaying a little more than usual as you peruse the tree ripe peaches. That may be due to the live DJ spinning vinyl records, which are also on sale in five of the chain’s SoCal locations.
Selling music is not new to Whole Foods Market. Checkout aisles often feature CDs a la Starbucks selections, or the eclectic world music offerings from Putumayo. But selling LPs is a new venture, and one that takes up considerably more valuable retail selling space than a compact disc. It’s a commitment. (But records always have been. Perhaps that’s one reason we went smaller in the first place. People were getting tired of building Ikea shelves to hold all their vinyl.)
Still, the move may prove to be profitable, if not also elevating Whole Foods to uber-hip status. After all, kale can only do so much. According to TIME Magazine, Urban Outfitters, the trendy clothing store, has become one of the nation’s top-sellers of vinyl records. Like healthy eating, vinyl is making a comeback among music purists who reject compressed electronic music files as spoiling sound and experience. An MP3 file is to vinyl what Uncle Ben’s is to organic heirloom Fair Trade brown rice. Iceberg lettuce to Upland Cress. Sprite to GT’s Kombucha. While music industry sales were flat (at best) last year, vinyl sales rose 19 percent. Whole Foods may still always be considered a place to purchase food first and foremost, but “adding records helps move the chain from a grocery store to a lifestyle brand,” reports TIME.
Also available alongside vinyl selections Whole Foods Market customers can pick up a pair of LSTN Headphones, which work on a TOMs and Warby Parker model with the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Proceeds from every pair of headphones sold help a hearing impaired person in need of hearing assistance.
So, next time you’re making out your grocery list, remember to add the Rolling Stones, Daft Punk, Frank Sinatra and Bob Marley for an organic meal that’s most aurally delicious. And be sure to invite Henry Rollins to dinner.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger