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Organizational Behavior, Third Edition by Adrienne Colella, C. Chet Miller, Michael A. Hitt

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OPENING CASE STUDY: WHOLE FOODS, Whole People

Whole Foods Market is the largest natural food retailer in the world. With operations located primarily in the United States and also in Canada and the United Kingdom, Whole Foods sells natural and organic food products that include produce, meat, poultry, seafood, grocery products, baked and prepared goods, many drinks such as beer and wine, cheese, floral products, and pet products. The origin of the company dates to 1978 when John Mackey and his girlfriend used $45,000 in borrowed funds to start a small natural food store then named SaferWay. The store was located in Austin, Texas. John and his girlfriend lived in the space over the store (without a shower) because they were "kicked out" of their apartment for storing food products in it.

In 1980, Mackey developed a partnership with Craig Weller and Mark Skiles, merging SaferWay with Weller's and Skiles's Clarksville Natural Grocer to create the Whole Foods Market. Its first store opened in 1980 with 12,500 square feet and 19 employees. This was a very large health food store relative to others at that time. There was a devastating flood in Austin within a year of its opening and the store was heavily damaged. Much of its inventory was ruined and its equipment was damaged. The total losses were approximately $400,000, and the company had no insurance. Interestingly, customers and neighbors helped the staff of the store to repair and clean up the damage. Creditors, vendors, and investors ...

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