Supermarket rivals battle for turf supremacy

Gabriel Cabello, Gabriel Cabello, and Gabriel Cabello

Look out: we may have a heavyweight bout on our hands! A growing number of Lazy Acres shoppers have asked if the store is intimidated by next month’s arrival of Whole Foods Market.

Lazy Acres, Santa Barbara’s self-proclaimed best source for natural and organic foods, prepares for the looming arrival of the world’s real leader in natural and organic foods.

According to a Lazy Acre’s employee, customers’ questions regarding Whole Foods Market are brushed off with reassuring responses. But he, customers, and Lazy Acres all know that the gloves will likely be off when Whole Foods comes to town.

But customers don’t just ask questions. He said a few have openly said they would stop frequenting the store and switch over to Whole Foods because of high prices. A half-gallon of organic orange juice at Lazy Acres is $16.99.

Customers are not the only ones jumping ship. A number of employees have already signed up to work at Whole Foods. This begs the question as to whether the arrival of Whole Foods is good or bad for Santa Barbara.

Until now, the local natural and organic foods market has essentially been cornered by a handful of stores who cater to customers residing nearby their outlets. The farmers market has also been an alternative. Nevertheless, Lazy Acres has probably had the most success due to wealthy and famous customers from Montecito.

Some locals fear Whole Foods will eventually muscle out the competition. This concern is justified as the chain has conquered many parts of the US, ventured up to Canada and across the sea to the UK.

The Santa Barbara location will become the 28th Whole Foods store serving Southern California, with 270 stores worldwide.

But with all the talk of the “big bully” coming to town to eliminate everyone in sight, the benefits of a Whole Foods opening up shop seem to outweigh concerns, at least for now.

As many City College students know, with the economy still reeling, there are scarce numbers of employment opportunities around town. While Lazy Acres does its due diligence by employing current, future, and past City College students, the opportunities are not enough. The arrival of Whole Foods will only help by offering students more job opportunities.

Local organic and natural food farmers will likely benefit as there will be an additional competitor vying for fresh goods.

Also, customers will reap the rewards of Whole Foods’ arrival because of competitive prices stores will have to offer in order to compete with one another. In fact, according to a Lazy Acres employee, the store already plans on offering big sales during Whole Foods’ opening weeks.

So, while green-conscious and healthy shoppers alike eagerly await next month’s arrival of Whole Foods Market, local competitors take a wait-and-see approach on the eventual impact the store will have on business.