Business

Shoppers feast on discounts as Houston Midtown Whole Foods closure looms

The store opened in 2019, but unexpectedly announced over the weekend it would cease operations. An employee said doors could permanently close as soon as Monday evening.

Aisles at the Midtown Whole Foods Market were empty Monday.
Daisy Espinoza
Aisles at the Midtown Whole Foods Market were empty Monday.

The shelves of Houston’s Whole Foods Midtown location were almost completely wiped on Monday afternoon, just two days after the store began cutting prices before its permanent closure.

Bewildered shoppers pushed steel carts around the store peering around the corner of empty aisles in search of food like vultures.

Word of the store’s closure got out over the weekend, and Houstonians were quick to inform people of sales the grocer began posting in-store Saturday. The closure of the store at 515 Elgin St. comes almost four years after the store opened its doors to new customers.

By Monday afternoon, employees put up “70 percent off” signs for what was left in the store: some vitamins and sparkling waters, glass vases and a handful of granola bars. The “60 percent off” wine aisle was still heavily stocked with Chardonnay and Rosé.

A Whole Foods Market spokesperson told Houston Public Media Monday that the store would be closing by Oct. 13. A Whole Foods employee however said Monday the store could close by the end of the day, pending final sales of what was left.

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Daisy Espinoza

On Saturday, the store began its liquidation sale, with prices marked down by 50 percent. Sunday, groceries were 60 percent off, with alcohol priced around 50 percent off.

The store is working with Midtown Houston team members to find them positions at other nearby locations in the Houston area. In the event a team member cannot or does not want to stay within the company, Whole Foods Market will provide full pay and benefits for 60 days.

"Like any business, we regularly evaluate the performance and growth potential of each of our stores and make decisions to position the company for long-term success,” the company said in a statement to Houston Public Media Monday. “We are supporting all impacted Team Members through this transition and working closely with them to find new opportunities within the company. Our stores remain an important part of our growth strategy, and we currently have more than 55 new stores in the pipeline and continuously explore new sites."

It is still unclear what brought about the closure of the store, and what will be put in its place. The lone remaining grocer in Midtown is a Randalls in the 2200 block of Louisiana Street.