Whole Foods is famous for high prices, a commitment to healthier foods, and that infamous asparagus water, but in many ways the upscale supermarket chain is a grocery pioneer. Whole Foods gives preference to local artisan producers, carries organic and fair trade fruits and vegetables, and stocks foods taking into consideration all types of dietary restrictions. But Whole Foods has another side: It has become synonymous, for many people, with unwelcome gentrification and food snobbery — the phenomenon known as the "Whole Foods Effect."
The Whole Foods Effect is simple; whenever the market moves into a neighborhood, local properties values tend to go up. A comprehensive study conducted by Johnson Economics found that when a specialty grocer — Whole Foods or otherwise — enters a neighborhood, it raises prices of surrounding homes by 17.5 percent, which is more of a bump than the opening of a bookstore, bike shop, or gym.
Does the advent of a Whole Foods create hot neighborhoods, or are its corporate scouts particularly adept at picking out neighborhoods that are already on the rise? That's not certain, but what's sure is that when Whole Foods opens somewhere, other retailers, coffee shops, and real estate developers tag along. Wherever a Whole Food goes, a Starbucks, a Banana Republic, and luxury condos are sure to follow.
Here are eight ways your life will change, for better or for worse, when Whole Foods opens in your neighborhood