Organic Real Estate

Have you ever heard about the “Whole Foods Effect”?  If you’re anything like me, you said to yourself: A bigger pant size maybe?  Well, at least that’s the effect more Whole Foods would have on me!  In all seriousness, this phenomenon sets into motion a series of events that propel neighborhoods into positive growth frenzy.  These neighborhoods are mainly urban in nature.

I’ve only been to a Whole Foods store a few times in my life: One in Manhattan (NYC) and one in Charles River Plaza (Boston) that I can recall, but it was enough of an experience to get a better grasp of this brick-and-mortar establishment, the products it served (a healthier food option), the emotional joy of browsing (quite different than 99% of the grocers I have visited during my lifetime) and the effect it had on the wallet (but it was so worth it).  Now, I’m a sucker for natural, organic and even locally-grown foods and if didn’t have such a wonderful wife (aka cook), I’d even favor the pre-prepared dinners which are also available.  Quite frankly Whole Foods is a no-brainer for me.

With that being said, unfortunately Northeastern Pennsylvanians haven’t been blessed with this Texas-based retailer yet.  The nearest store is over 120 miles away.  I am hopeful that will change and for good reason: When Whole Foods invades, real estate property values increase.  Though the franchise might not directly be responsible for property values increasing in a local real estate market, they are the catalyst for a series of events that make areas flourish.  When you probe into it further you’ll see that it isn’t just a store, it’s an idea.  It’s a space that creates a gravitational force, attracting people to the neighborhood, who also buy into this idea and thus the cycle continues.  After it appears on the scene, the length of the day grows; businesses stay open later (including Whole Foods).

Many people want to move closer to activity, having the option of a better “night on the town.”  They enjoy having other choices available, including where to eat, shop and play.  This is particularly appealing to the Gen X & Gen Y consumer.  These things spell doom for the property buyer/investor who is sitting on the fence – demand goes up and as data has also shown, so to do the property values in these areas that spawn the birth of a Whole Foods.

With roughly fifty of these stores in the pipeline, has your area recently seen the birth of a Whole Foods store?  And if so, what have you experienced with your local real estate economy as a result?

If you’re interested in reading more about the “Whole Foods Effect,” Will Doig, who writes for Salon, delves into this concept much deeper (http://goo.gl/Jkcik).

Greg Solfanelli
Marketing / Director of Consumer Experience
Realty Network Group
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