Friday, September 21, 2007

The Future of Henry's

With the acquisition of Wild Oats by Whole Foods now a done deal, what, my worried friends ask, is to become of Henry's, which has been a property of Wild Oats? Will our stores morph into Whole Foods?

Well, folks, it turns out that Whole Foods is selling the Henry's Farmers Market chain, as well as Sun Harvest stores in Texas, to Smart & Final. The deal is supposed to close by the end of this month. Smart & Final is held by Apollo Management, a giant private equity firm.

This begs the question, "what does this mean for Henry's shoppers?" Will prices go back down since the expensive Wild Oats will no longer be in the picture? Will we end up with a Smart & Final style of bulk shopping? Anyone who has been to a Smart & Final lately knows it's a great place to buy restaurant-supply-type items, soda, cleaning products and enormous jars of pickles and the like. But it's hard to see how a Smart & Final style of merchandising relates to Henry's.

Stay tuned.

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  1. Hi,

    I love your blog. I wanted to comment quickly about the Henry's issue. I, too, was worried about this. However, I have read that Smart and Final intend to keep the Henry's franchise as-is. So, no big changes are expected (except that Henry's will probably no longer carry Wild Oats products)!

  2. Caron, what a great teaser. I can't wait to read the fact, was disappointed when I realized I'd have to wait. Those of us up here in Escondido are in a particular pickle. Our cramped, inefficient and falling-apart Henry's is limping along, waiting for what we thought would be a happy transfer into an brand-new building being built alongside it. Ground was broken, but nothing is happening, and the parking lot has become too crowded, now that what used to be the rest of the lot is torn up. So, what with the sale to Smart & Final (where I never shop, btw), I'm guessing Whole Foods isn't going to transform our sad Henry's (which used to be Boney's) into a glorious big WF, which I for one would love. The closest WF is in La Jolla, and the parking there makes Henry's look positively ample.

    So my dilemma is: Do I drive all the way to La Jolla to shop in Whole Foods Heaven, only to fight for a parking space? Or do I shop at the sadly under-inventoried Henry's in Escondido? For me, it's a no-brainer...I shop here and do without. Who has time to run around? I thought I had found the ideal solution by shopping at the Escondido Farmer's Market, but Tuesday I bought a cantaloupe there for twice what they were at Henry's (I know this for a fact because I went there immediately afterwards)...and no, the high-priced cantaloupe wasn't nearly as wonderful as it should have been -- just average. Henry's is still the only store in town that sells nuts in bulk at reasonable prices, goatgurt and other stuff that's reels me in, though I sure wish I could just go to one huge market and find everything! I've been to the palatial Whole Foods in Boulder, so I do know what I'm missing (sigh).

  3. Well, what you may find in Escondido -- and the rest of us around San Diego -- is that Smart & Final infuses some capital into Henry's and spiffs it up. That would be the optimist's approach. In the meantime, I'm going to try and call the company this week and see if I can find out what their plans are.