The One Thing I’ll Never Buy Again at Whole Foods

updated Sep 12, 2019
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(Image credit: Carina Romano)

Although I don’t shop there often, there’s a time and a place for Whole Foods. There are just a few things that I can’t find elsewhere, and sometimes I find myself in a pinch — like when my husband and I got up on a Sunday, perused our copy of The Food Lab cookbook, and decided nothing else would do for dinner but seared rib-eye. Our butcher shop, alas, is closed on Sunday, and we’re pretty picky about where our infrequent steak dinner comes from, so off to Whole Foods it was for some good beef.

The back half of the weekend was dwindling so we didn’t want to make a day of it on the grocery store merry-go-round, and because we only needed a few things this week, we decided to bite the bullet and just do all our shopping at Whole Foods. <

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

That included picking up some fresh flowers. Now, I almost never buy flowers there — Trader Joe’s flowers are just so much more affordable and, based on the few times I’ve bought Whole Foods’ flowers, last so much longer — but I wanted to get back home and relax on this rainy Sunday afternoon. So when I saw the big floral display by the produce/bulk foods/seafood section, I stopped to check out the super-cute Mason jar arrangements. Because who doesn’t need more Mason jars in their life?

The sign read $9.99, which seemed too good to be true at Whole Foods. The woman working this exhibit didn’t much seem like she wanted to be bothered, but I wanted to see if my eyes were deceiving me.

“Is that $9.99 plus the Mason jar?” I asked. Nope, that was the price for the whole arrangement. She was clearly and distinctly not interested in speaking with anyone (or me, anyway) but I had another question.

“How long do you think these might last?” I went on. “I couldn’t really say,” she said, her patience with this line of questioning was nearing its end. At this point though, I was invested and had to press on.

“Because I need these flowers to last through the week, at least until Thursday, and the last time I bought a bouquet here, half the flowers were dead when I got home.” That caused her pause. “Well, did you return them?” she asked. Huh. It never occurred to me one might return dead flowers. Also, that didn’t answer my question. I hovered, awkwardly, and at last she shrugged. “They should last a few days.”

Good enough. I picked through the various bouquets to find one with the fewest brown leaves (I paid attention when I learned what to look for in grocery store flowers!) and weaved through the Sunday throngs to check out.

Now, I must ask you: What is your least favorite thing to happen when you’re in the grocery store check-out, nothing standing between you and your couch and comfy clothes but handing over fistfuls of cash? Yep. A price check. The flowers rang up $14.99. Because, of course they did. A tiresome conversation between myself and the cashier ensued, customers behind me as annoyed as I’d have been in their place. We eventually paid the $9.99 and left.

Yes, the shopping experience was an unpleasant one, but what left me even less pleased was the fact that the flowers most certainly did not last until Thursday. Even Wednesday was pushing it. I could have looked past the surly employees (I’ve worked in retail and know what a drag it can be). But considering Whole Foods flowers are more expensive than Trader Joe’s and don’t even last as long, that was the last time I will ever buy flowers at Whole Foods. (It’s also worth noting this was not a one-off experiment and I’ve had quite a few equally disappointing bouquets from the expensive grocer.)

While I’m certain that I’ll be back at Whole Foods again at some point soon, I can assure you that I will be steering clear of the flower department.

What about you? Have you had better luck with Whole Foods flowers than I have?