Amazon to buy Whole Foods in $13.4 Billion Deal
June 16, 2017 7:53 AM   Subscribe

 
*snort*
posted by Melismata at 7:54 AM on June 16


We need more companies, not fewer.
posted by chasing at 7:57 AM on June 16 [28 favorites]


So the folks guessing that Amazon was opening physical locations to plan a run at groceries were right on the money.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:01 AM on June 16 [8 favorites]


We need more companies, not fewer.

You could look at this as Amazon going head to head with Walmart in the grocery business.
posted by Bee'sWing at 8:01 AM on June 16 [14 favorites]


Wish they bought Hostess instead, oh well.
posted by Melismata at 8:02 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


I hope this means we can get Whole Foods delivered again (Instacart stopped about a month ago) .
posted by leotrotsky at 8:03 AM on June 16


In Whole Foods, Amazon gains an established chain that already went through all the effort to develop a retail presence in many of the desired markets and demographics that Amazon favors. Looks like a good move.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:04 AM on June 16 [21 favorites]


Fucking Mackey stays on as CEO. Why?
posted by defenestration at 8:05 AM on June 16 [12 favorites]


You could look at this as Amazon going head to head with Walmart in the grocery business.

Funny how, despite the tech giants many issues, they often find themselves being the lesser of two evils (Apple vs cellular companies, Google Fiber vs cable companies, Amazon vs Walmart).

It tells you how shitty most other businesses are, I'd guess.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:06 AM on June 16 [36 favorites]


Jeff Bezos is personally going to save a whole lot of money each month on groceries now.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:07 AM on June 16 [13 favorites]


Also, in the WaPo article about this, one of the first things they mention is "The Seattle-based company was recently granted a patent for technology that would block shoppers from comparing prices from their mobile devices while they’re in stores."

The internet is great because it offers choice! Until the largest internet companies take everything over and patent technology that makes comparing prices difficult or impossible.
posted by defenestration at 8:07 AM on June 16 [54 favorites]


The CEO of Whole Foods called activist investors 'greedy bastards,' and then struck a deal that will lead to a huge payday for one

Jana Partners, an activist hedge fund that has been a thorn in Mackey's side, is the third-largest shareholder with a stake of just over 8%. Its share of the company is worth $1.1 billion at the deal price, about $230 million more than a day ago.
posted by chavenet at 8:08 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


Not particularly shocking but I do wonder about the reasons as Whole Foods tends to be high markup luxury groceries and that seems opposite of the current Amazon Fresh model.

I also wonder about how expandable the Whole Foods brand is from a brick and mortar perspective as it already seems like Whole Foods already has a large number of marginally profitable locations
posted by vuron at 8:09 AM on June 16


$13 billion? That'll get you a couple of cantaloupes at Whole Foods, for sure.
posted by dr_dank at 8:09 AM on June 16 [32 favorites]


I should say, I drank the Amazon Kool-aid a while ago. While I'd never want to work there, I love my Prime, my Kindle, my Echos (es?), my Amazon Music, my Amazon streaming, even my new Amazon Prime card (5% cash back!) I recognize that this means they probably know more about me than I do.

But, they really seem to be working to make Prime a better deal every year, instead of literally every other company in existence. It'd be like an ice cream company making the pints bigger, instead of smaller. They keep adding stuff, and there's a real beneficial network effect the more you integrate (I know this is intentional).
posted by leotrotsky at 8:11 AM on June 16 [48 favorites]


If Amazon Prime members get free Whole Foods delivery I will dance a happy little jig.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:12 AM on June 16 [13 favorites]


I'm not a huge fan of WF due to that nightmare CEO and fortunately I can shop for provisions at other stores/farmers markets in my town, but at least WF was always a dependable place to get groceries & sandwiches when in an unfamiliar city. Now, I worry that Bezos is going to strip WF down to a Walmart clone.
posted by honey badger at 8:17 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


The Seattle-based company was recently granted a patent for technology that would block shoppers from comparing prices from their mobile devices while they’re in stores.

How precisely would they do this? Block sites?
posted by corb at 8:20 AM on June 16


Hm, I didn't NEED another reason to avoid shopping at Whole Foods: the prices, the politics, the pretension. Guess I got one anyway.
posted by rikschell at 8:20 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


Amazon is Beatrice.
posted by allthinky at 8:20 AM on June 16 [9 favorites]


Do you really need an app to tell you everything is more expensive at Whole Foods?
posted by guiseroom at 8:21 AM on June 16 [39 favorites]


Also, in the WaPo article about this, one of the first things they mention is "The Seattle-based company was recently granted a patent for technology that would block shoppers from comparing prices from their mobile devices while they’re in stores."

It's if you're using their in-store wifi, which is understandable.


The patent, titled “Physical Store Online Shopping Control,” details a mechanism where a retailer can intercept network requests like URLs and search terms that happen on its in-store Wi-Fi, then act upon them in various ways.

I'm excited about the possibilities. The Verge article also suggests they could use the comparison shopper info and redirect to coupons. I've been pretty happy with Amazon over the years, so this doesnt upset me currently.
posted by cashman at 8:21 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


What's understandable about it, cashman?
posted by defenestration at 8:22 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


How precisely would they do this? Block sites?

You need to be connected to their wifi, and not using a VPN. Which means it will only work on the foolish.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:22 AM on June 16 [7 favorites]


allthinky: "Amazon is Beatrice."

Well, that confirms that Bezos is dantesque, anyway. (I know, I know!)
posted by chavenet at 8:25 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


If they moved a couple of years earlier, Amazon could have just swept up all the Fresh & Easy's here in California/Southwest area for a mere pittance.

Also, wasn't/isn't Whole Foods a struggling brand? (Since I see that they seem to be emphasizing their food court-like offerings and pub/restaurant these days) At least in Southern California, they do okay, but I keep thinking that our growing collection of bargain brand grocers, even MORE health conscious/organic than Whole Foods grocers (like Mother's), and various ethnic/international supermarkets kind of puts the squeeze on them. And the supermarket business is already pretty low margin.

(And of course, there's always Costco and Trader Joe's.)
posted by FJT at 8:28 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


Great Whole Foods Firewall is obviously feasible but I have to ask why as people could easily just use LTE in store. Unless they plan on blocking cell signals which is incredibly stupid.
posted by vuron at 8:28 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


All in-house wi-fis are NOT there for your benefit. See: airports.
posted by Melismata at 8:29 AM on June 16 [19 favorites]


*snort*

Still only available on "the darknet".
posted by sammyo at 8:30 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


The internet is great because it offers choice! Until the largest internet companies take everything over and patent technology that makes comparing prices difficult or impossible.

Speaking as someone who currently annoys the living hell out of retail workers* by going to their brick-n-mortars, then using the Amazon app to scan product packages to look up Amazon reviews and consider the price, this sorta reads like a defensive patent to me.

IOW, Amazon now owns a patent they may never use to keep the businesses they're trying to destroy from using it on them and their potential customers.

* Nothing gets me to "may I help you?" from a passing blue shirt faster than getting out my phone and scanning a product box at Best Buy.
posted by mph at 8:33 AM on June 16 [10 favorites]


"Join our WiFi for better service and these in-store promotions. Stay on for the courtesy of us blocking those pesky competitors!"
posted by defenestration at 8:33 AM on June 16


In my more whimsical moments I think "it's good they're building these gigantic monolithic trusts so it'll be easier to nationalize them"
posted by The Whelk at 8:37 AM on June 16 [64 favorites]


Amazon could have saved money, but they wanted a supermarket chain that was organic, non-GMO, locally sourced, and gluten free.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:38 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


All in-house wi-fis are NOT there for your benefit. See: airports.

Or Target. Took them forever to allow access to their sites through a VPN.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:39 AM on June 16


You can ding Whole Foods all you want, but their house brand peanut butter is great. And not remarkably expensive.

They also have a perfectly adequate cheese counter.

Those are the things I go there to buy (that and toothpaste, b/c Target doesn't carry my preferred flavor)
posted by caution live frogs at 8:45 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


But, they really seem to be working to make Prime a better deal every year

Certainly an institution that deeply grasps the concept "economies of scale", but (as much as I'm an aws fanboi) do not ascribe an iota of altruism to their stratagems of world domination.
posted by sammyo at 8:46 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


Whole Foods tend to sell brands that are hard to find elsewhere, though that's always changing.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:47 AM on June 16




All in-house wi-fis are NOT there for your benefit. See: airports.

Or Target. Took them forever to allow access to their sites through a VPN.


A little explanation for the not savvy?
posted by CrazyLemonade at 8:53 AM on June 16


Whole Foods was in trouble because their main differentiator (organic food) was easy for their competitors to replicate. They've been struggling to figure out a reason to exist other than separating money from people with too much of it.

What amazon gets out of this deal is a food distribution network, and a retail footprint for in-store pick up.

Aside from food, they could stage frequently ordered items there for immediate delivery and pick up.
posted by empath at 8:53 AM on June 16 [4 favorites]


Certainly an institution that deeply grasps the concept "economies of scale", but (as much as I'm an aws fanboi) do not ascribe an iota of altruism to their stratagems of world domination.

Whatever their motivation, so far they have been effectively quite altruistic, with quite thin profit margins (outside of AWS).

Did I mention "so far"?
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:54 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


The WF ketchup is good, too.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:54 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


sammyo: "do not ascribe an iota of altruism to their stratagems of world domination."

On the other hand, if it's a choice between the two, I'd rather hand money to Bezos than a Walton.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:55 AM on June 16 [17 favorites]


Well, after the revolution we'll just nationalize Amazon and our distribution problems will be solved. The computerization that Allende dreamed of, we'll make real.

The other alternative, of course, a monstrous, extremely unequal, neo-feudalist surveillance state, grown from the merger of the last remaining giant corporations - that's too terrible to contemplate, so let's not. Especially when you think about, like Bezos and them probably living forever in utopian domes via new technology while working class lives shorten in the slums.
posted by Frowner at 8:57 AM on June 16 [25 favorites]


If they manage to figure out a way that I can download wine directly to my Kindle, then I'm all in on this.
posted by Daily Alice at 8:58 AM on June 16 [18 favorites]


Whole Foods was in trouble because their main differentiator (organic food) was easy for their competitors to replicate. They've been struggling to figure out a reason to exist other than separating money from people with too much of it.

Their salad bar is pretty good, and comparable in price to other similar salad bars (well, Wegman's anyway).
posted by codacorolla at 8:58 AM on June 16


People aren't yet missing democracy because discounts (for the center and left) and ressentiment (for the right) are super fun. Give us another ten or twenty years, though, and we'll regret what we lose.
posted by Frowner at 8:58 AM on June 16 [14 favorites]


One step closer to Goolgezon.

Between Walmart and Amazon in retail, Google vs Facebook on the Internet, and Apple against Samsung in phones.

I am feeling like mouse trying not to get stepped on while these elephants fight each.
posted by KaizenSoze at 8:59 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


Wonder if this means Fresh will launch to more than the handful of markets it's currently in.
posted by pwnguin at 9:03 AM on June 16


You need to be connected to their wifi, and not using a VPN. Which means it will only work on the foolish.

Well, obviously fools, people who are less technologically literate, and people who have no other options for various reasons deserve to be exploited by Amazon in every possible way.
posted by Copronymus at 9:04 AM on June 16 [14 favorites]


So on point, Frowner. I do think we'll look back and feel foolish about some of our technological optimism.
posted by defenestration at 9:04 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


A little explanation for the not savvy?

It used to be you'd go into a store and say oh cool, free wifi! I don't have to run up my cellular bill! Then you realized that the free wifi was nothing but a way to gather information about your browsing habits, and that actually surfing the net like you always do is painfully slow and useless. If you go to an airport, it's basically impossible to get to any web site other than "next time you're here, fly with United!"
posted by Melismata at 9:09 AM on June 16 [5 favorites]


I know nothing about this side of the Amazon business, but this announcement seems perfectly timed, given the recent dash wand release (watch the video to see what I mean!)
posted by Greasy Eyed Gristle Man at 9:09 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


"Ninety percent of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of a Walmart store, so leveraging its store footprint, whether it be for pick-ups or deliveries, is a key part of the company's e-commerce strategy." - The Motley Fool

Indeed. In about an hour will drive over to my local Wally World and the online grocery order my wife and I have been accumulating and editing for the past few days will be loaded in my trunk and I'll be on my way at no charge for orders over $30. A couple of boxes of Chateau du Cardboard will normally clear that hurdle easily...
posted by jim in austin at 9:09 AM on June 16


I worked at WFM from 1993-2011. This is good news. Why John Mackey is still on as CEO probably has more to do with getting a fat severance in a year rather than his vainglorious oversized ego. Oh who are we kidding, it's all about his ego.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:10 AM on June 16 [6 favorites]


ALSO: all I really need is your wireless beacon, you don't need to connect to my wireless network in order for me to gain a shitload of valuable data on you. (I was a wireless network engineer for retailers by trade for a dozen years)

Lesson: Turn off wireless and Bluetooth when you go into a Whole Foods, Nordstrom or an REI.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:13 AM on June 16 [28 favorites]


I think what gets overlooked in all this is that we're concentrating political power more and more and more in the hands of the super wealthy. It's not like the super wealthy haven't had a lot of power in the past, but they are getting richer and there are a few people - Bezos, Gates, the Kochs, the Waltons - who are all white, mostly men, have no experience of ordinary life as it's lived by most people and really (for various reasons - white supremacist Christianity for some, techbro hubris for others) think that unelected rich people do the best job of running society.

The richer these people get, the more politicians they can buy. Right now, I feel like people are semi-consciously saying "well, Bezos and Gates and maybe Musk are okay, at least they're not the Kochs, we'll just kick this situation down the road". But this is extremely, extremely undemocratic.

None of our unelected rulers will ever help any of us if it infringes on their interests. Right now, some of our interests align with the socially liberal ones, but do you really want to bet on that continuing forever? When the rubber meets the road on global warming, Bezos and them will put themselves and their class first, as they will any time they stand to lose something they actually want.

I feel like people are less and less interested in the preservation of small-d democratic norms - there's a little light being shone on the Trump administration, and it's true that this is the most pressing danger, but we are setting ourselves up for a smarter, faster tyranny down the road simply because we don't like going to the grocery store. (And yes, I get the arguments about convenience, working parents, etc, but those don't outweigh the other concerns.)
posted by Frowner at 9:14 AM on June 16 [67 favorites]


Honestly except for what appears to be diametrically opposed labor relations to Amazon it seems like Costco would be a better fit.

Both Costco and Prime are built around yearly membership models and economies of scale. So they would be a better fit in many ways.

However Whole Foods and Amazon appear to have similar antipathy towards labor so maybe Whole Foods is a better culture fit.
posted by vuron at 9:14 AM on June 16 [6 favorites]


Well, obviously fools, people who are less technologically literate, and people who have no other options for various reasons deserve to be exploited by Amazon in every possible way.

It's not 1992, you don't have to write your own client in Fortran. Install the app, press a button. If you aren't assuming that free networks are hostile, you are exposing yourself to exploitation.

There's no "deserve" about it - risky behavior carries risks.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:15 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]




In my more whimsical moments I think "it's good they're building these gigantic monolithic trusts so it'll be easier to nationalize them"

LOL. It's the monoliths that are poised to privatize chunks of the government.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:20 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


I was just in Austin for work and while there I visited the amazing indie bookstore, BookPeople. If you've never been there, it's just across the street from the original Whole Foods, now its big and beautiful flagship store, and the tower that houses the Whole Foods corporate headquarters. I can't imagine how the folks at BookPeople feel about this, now with Amazon literally in their backyard and their corporate headquarters casting its long shadow over them.
posted by Stanczyk at 9:23 AM on June 16 [7 favorites]



All in-house wi-fis are NOT there for your benefit. See: airports.

Or Target. Took them forever to allow access to their sites through a VPN.

A little explanation for the not savvy?


Target, on the other hand, was and is defensive about being hacked. Whenever anyone visits their website or uses their app, Target can see where visitors are. VPNs can change this, by making users appear to be visiting from a different location. This screws up location-based services, like helping you inside the store you are visiting, or looking at ads. This is also part of how hackers hide their identities. VPNs have a limited number of cover locations. So it's easy for anyone to find and block them.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:23 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


Amazon and Whole Foods getting hitched? For some reason I am not surprised at all.

It's not 1992, you don't have to write your own client in Fortran.

Aww. :( If more of us wrote Fortran, maybe we'd be more inclined to adopt "IMPLICIT NONE" as our philosophy towards what personal information we share with corporations.
posted by heatherlogan at 9:23 AM on June 16 [5 favorites]


Does Whole Foods still have a goofy health care plan for their employees?
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:24 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


ZeusHumms: "Does Whole Foods still have a goofy health care plan for their employees?"

This is America, we're working on eliminating that whole "health plan" thing nationwide
posted by caution live frogs at 9:26 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


It's not like the super wealthy haven't had a lot of power in the past, but they are getting richer and there are a few people - Bezos, Gates, the Kochs, the Waltons - who are all white, mostly men, have no experience of ordinary life as it's lived by most people and really (for various reasons - white supremacist Christianity for some, techbro hubris for others) think that unelected rich people do the best job of running society.

Our current political system is so dysfunctional that Donald Trump is president and the republicans in Congress think it makes political sense to take away healthcare from 24 million Americans, including many of their own voters.

Income inequality isn't a good thing. But I don't think its fair to group the folks who:
1) actually earned their wealth
2) are taking steps to improve the world with it (Bezos, Buffett, Gates)

with the folks who:
1) have tremendous wealth through choosing their parents carefully, and
2) are fucking up the country with political bribery (Kochs, Waltons).
posted by leotrotsky at 9:29 AM on June 16 [14 favorites]


The patent, titled “Physical Store Online Shopping Control,” details a mechanism where a retailer can intercept network requests like URLs and search terms that happen on its in-store Wi-Fi, then act upon them in various ways.

So they patented a man-in-the-middle-attack.
posted by srboisvert at 9:34 AM on June 16 [14 favorites]


Both Costco and Prime are built around yearly membership models and economies of scale. So they would be a better fit in many ways.
However Whole Foods and Amazon appear to have similar antipathy towards labor so maybe Whole Foods is a better culture fit.


I don't think Bezos worries much about culture fit. I think it's about tapping into a pre-existing food distribution network that's already optimized for fresh produce and prepared foods.

Probably recency bias talking, but I just ordered a box of groceries from Amazon for the first time this week. I only used them b/c I was looking for a certain brand of snack food for an event and couldn't find it my local supermarket. I found actually a bit of a pain in the ass to fill up the box, though, and didn't plan to use them again. They didn't really offer anything perishable, didn't have a lot of the brands I like, and I didn't want to just fill up my cart with junk food just to get free shipping. I've heard of a lot of people ordering, say, giant sacks of pet food or cases of bottled water off Amazon, especially in cities. But from what I saw, I couldn't really use them to replace my weekly shop. Amazon+Whole Foods though? That might actually be a grocery store killer.
posted by Diablevert at 9:47 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


From Twitter:

@KrangTNelson 3h3 hours ago
AMAZON, 1998: hello we sell books but online

AMAZON, 2023: please return to your Primehouse for your nightly Primemeal, valued Primecitizen
posted by Sophie1 at 10:11 AM on June 16 [54 favorites]


I wish they would buy Trader Joe's and ship their products to Canada. Screw Whole Foods, but what I would give for a Trader Joe's....
posted by kitcat at 10:14 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


And in other news Google just bought Auntie Anne's Pretzels.
posted by spitbull at 10:14 AM on June 16


I wish they would buy Trader Joe's and ship their products to Canada. Screw Whole Foods, but what I would give for a Trader Joe's....

Colin Dwyer/NPR: It's Checkmatey For Pirate Joe's: Canadian Grocery Reseller Lowers Its Sails
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:20 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


I do wonder about the reasons as Whole Foods tends to be high markup luxury groceries

I think this as a truism is fading, or has faded. Whole Foods reflects their stores' customers.

My local Whole Foods is next-door to subsidized family housing and sits between two distinct neighborhoods. One of them is full of people who bought single family homes 20+ years ago, and are now sitting on $1-2M of real estate -- but in a day-to-day sense, they are not rich. They are mostly retirees/empty nesters plus a (growing) handful of young-ish well-off families who are buying their houses. The other neighborhood is one of the last remaining blue-collar/working class neighborhoods of San Francisco -- not a lot of professionals, but not a lot of unemployment either -- these folks probably have more spending money than the empty nesters. There is a community college about 2 blocks away. The nearest big supermarket is 2.5 miles or so.

Our nearby, within walking distance Whole Foods carries a lot of the house-brand "365" stuff. It is priced competitively with the supermarkets (and lower than the nearby bodegas/liquor stores). Their sandwiches made to order are cheaper (and better) than the deli across the street. I don't think there's a bottle of wine over $35 there. Sure, if you want a hand-picked organic non-hydroponic tomato in February... they'll gladly sell it to you for $20, but for milk, flour, butter, eggs, and a whole lot of other staple foods, they're much more reasonable.

The stores that they've been opening recently have been more likely to follow this model... putting smaller stores in (and in-between) neighborhoods that don't quite line up with the "Take the BMW to the Whole Foods and drop $75 on picnic snacks" image of 20 years ago -- I mean, the parking lot still has a lot of Priuses, but most of today's customers arrive on foot. Their movement towards the "365 Markets" line of business suggests they're doubling-down on this.

Amazon gets a network of retail stores, many quite strategically placed. Their "no cashiers" storefront for employees in Seattle hasn't been running well enough for that to get a near-term wide rollout, but it's coming. It'll be in the smaller, urban WF stores first.

They also get the house-branded products, and the supply chain that makes them possible. Having those available to prime customers (either by mail or through one of Amazon's growing array of "at your door in an hour or two" services in denser areas) will help. The same is true for the much more localized produce supply chains.

Alexa+Amazon Fresh (or Prime Now)+Whole Foods is a solid and immediate threat to instacart -- add Amazon's subscription model ("You'll get a grocery delivery every Monday, just tell Alexa what you want to add to the list and it'll show up") and their sophistication in logistics and you've probably got something interesting. Whether that is a good business to go into is an entirely different question, but Amazon is in an increasingly good position to give it a go.
posted by toxic at 10:21 AM on June 16 [9 favorites]


Whole Foods' prepared foods departments are leaning more and more on pre-made food that's shipped in from an outside company and heated up in-store. Quality isn't really a going concern anymore.
posted by EarBucket at 10:26 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


Via tweet from @JesalTV:
Jeff Bezos: "Alexa, buy me something from Whole Foods."

Alexa: "Sure, Jeff. Buying Whole Foods now."

Jeff Bezos: "WHA- ahh go ahead."
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:27 AM on June 16 [55 favorites]


The jokes are rolling in (Boston Globe)
posted by Melismata at 10:29 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


The expansion of TJ's around the country has been good for WF, or at least for their prices. If I had to choose just one, it would be Costco, TJ and WF, in that order. I think the 'no cashiers' thing would be welcome though.
posted by Bee'sWing at 10:29 AM on June 16


Alexa: "Sure, Jeff. Buying Whole Foods now."

One time Alexa, overhearing our conversation, tried to buy us a puppy.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:31 AM on June 16 [20 favorites]


This is interesting:

Shares of U.S., Canadian and European retailers and supermarket chains fell after the online retailer said it would buy Whole Foods in a deal valued around $13.7 billion.

Canada's Loblaw's (Superstore, No Frills) is down 3%. This makes no sense to me. There is no way Canadians would forgo their beloved Superstore for overpriced food shipped via Amazon and arriving a week or more later. As far as I know, few Canadians even bother with Prime as there's not enough value in it for us. Banking on that would be a Target-sized mistake.
posted by kitcat at 10:37 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


The CEO of Whole Foods called activist investors 'greedy bastards,' and then struck a deal that will lead to a huge payday for one

Well yeah. For an Ayn Rand fan, isn't 'greedy bastard' a compliment?
posted by leotrotsky at 10:38 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


Whole Foods is you get if you transmogrify the abstract concept of white privilege into a concrete shopping experience. I find it unfun.
posted by sonascope at 10:39 AM on June 16 [7 favorites]


Any thoughts on how this acquisition might dovetail with Amazon's AmazonFresh Pickup concept stores? I have to think you're going to start seeing an AmazonFresh Pickup corner in your local Whole Foods.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:48 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


few Canadians even bother with Prime as there's not enough value in it for us

I thought I read something about people in Nunavut (or some very rural area) buying groceries and getting them shipped for free. Maybe that was Alaska.
posted by Bee'sWing at 10:48 AM on June 16


You're right, people are doing this in Nunavut - where a bottle of ketchup can cost $8 according to a tumblr page I found. Good for them, I'm glad they have an option for cheaper food. Still, the population there is very small.
posted by kitcat at 10:56 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


A Whole Foods opened recently in my neighborhood. It is what it is. What puzzles me is that none of the staff know anything. The other day I looked in all the obvious places for tonic water and didn't find it. So I started asking. Do you sell tonic water? If so where is it? With the other bottled waters? Nobody knows. Nobody seems to know anything, but they're all very nice. They sell gin and limes...
posted by lagomorphius at 10:58 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


A Whole Foods opened recently in my neighborhood. It is what it is. What puzzles me is that none of the staff know anything

Did you ask about portabello mushrooms?
posted by tzikeh at 11:02 AM on June 16 [20 favorites]


Did you ask about portabello mushrooms?

Damnit, I know this reference, but I can't place it.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:08 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


Mushroom info
posted by Melismata at 11:11 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


I can't imagine how the folks at BookPeople feel about this, now with Amazon literally in their backyard and their corporate headquarters casting its long shadow over them.

A friend of mine worked at BookPeople around the time of its Grand Opening at that address (and for a couple years afterward). My memory is really untrustworthy on the details, but I feel like Whole Foods was effectively BookPeople's landlord in some shared lease. I know as BookPeople shrank (the new space was too big, had too much overhead, and required too many employees) Whole Foods took over the space they left and expanded its own offices, which used to be in that building. Since Whole Foods more or less propped them up after an overambitious expansion, I'm guessing their feelings are pretty complicated.
posted by fedward at 11:12 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


Amazon Fresh's markup here in LA is crazy. Whole Foods' in house brand is a pretty good deal and they often have specials--you have to search for them, but they have them.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:31 AM on June 16


Reasons not to buy from Amazon. No one should use this company—it's too big.
posted by koavf at 11:32 AM on June 16 [6 favorites]


Other stores have been blocking competition for ages. Try looking up Amazon using the store wifi while standing in Barnes and Noble.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 11:39 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


I used to shop at Amazon a lot, in spite of growing reports of warehouse worker exploitation. I finally stopped a couple of years ago when I learnt that they don't pay warehouse workers for the half-hour they spend waiting to be frisked at the end of each day; that was the last straw for me.

I have since learnt that while Amazon undoubtedly is convenient to consumers, it is entirely possible to live a very happy life without it.
posted by splitpeasoup at 11:48 AM on June 16 [12 favorites]


this announcement seems perfectly timed, given the recent dash wand release (watch the video to see what I mean!)

I would really like these ideas were it not for the fact that every grocery item on Amazon is priced 2 to 3 dollars over your average Kroger prices here in Virginia. Even the prices that are acceptable are subject to change out of the blue.

I feel like Pantry, Subscribe and Save and for sure the Dash buttons are for the sort of people who don't get nervous when they see a restaurant menu without prices (who also tend to live in houses like the one on that video).

I have a budget, so I can't rely on these services. I don't see myself going to Whole Foods anytime soon, either.
posted by Tarumba at 11:50 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


Reasons not to buy from Amazon. No one should use this company—it's too big.

rms?

GNU/Stallman is so outside the mainstream conversation that I doubt he's going to change anyone's mind. ...and that's even after acknowledging that he was disturbingly prescient on the NSA stuff.

I mean, look at the menu!

What's bad about: Airbnb | Amazon | Amtrak | Ancestry | Apple | Ebooks | Eventbrite | Evernote | Facebook | Google | Intel | LinkedIn | Lyft | Meetup | Microsoft | Netflix | Pay Toilets | Skype | Spotify | Twitter | Uber |

I don't doubt that those companies have problems, but my mom isn't going to be librebooting anytime soon.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:59 AM on June 16 [6 favorites]


A Whole Foods opened recently in my neighborhood. It is what it is. What puzzles me is that none of the staff know anything

Did you ask about portabello mushrooms?


Not a big fan of gin & mushrooms.
posted by lagomorphius at 12:00 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


toxic: Yes, some of their 365 stuff is competitive with the supermarkets, and can be better. Their produce prices are insane, however. They sell yogurt you could find at Kroger for less before a Whole Foods opened near me, and still can find at Kroger. Their beer prices are also higher than a local store just across the street from me. Then they sell all these quacky health books and crazy supplements. It's a hyper-clean store, however, and has a bar, is great for hipster and yuppie watching, but bad for it on half-priced pint Monday nights, which is young bro night.
posted by raysmj at 12:08 PM on June 16


after the revolution we'll just nationalize Amazon and our distribution problems will be solved [...] alternative, of course, a monstrous, extremely unequal, neo-feudalist surveillance state
Patzers or swindlers, either us or them.
posted by clew at 12:13 PM on June 16


If Amazon really is looking into selling prescription drugs - which I saw reported in a few pharmacy trade publications about a month ago - then this can only help. CNBC article: If Amazon wants to sell rx drugs, whole foods could provide the real estate.
posted by selfmedicating at 12:15 PM on June 16


$13 billion? That'll get you a couple of cantaloupes at Whole Foods, for sure.

I'm not paying a million dollars for a can of dog food. That's clearly overpriced.

And they fuck your pets! That's not appropriate.
posted by flabdablet at 12:20 PM on June 16 [4 favorites]


This is certainly an interesting play. It makes scene, since they are already delivering groceries and have a prototype to speed up the checkout process. But how many industries can they disrupt, before they are spread to thin and lose focus at what make them successful in the first place.
posted by ZypDon54 at 12:25 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


I honestly can't wrap my head around this one, the costs involved just don't make a lot of sense to me. They're spending an awful lot of money to buy a grocery chain that's probably at best on questionable footing at this point in time. I guess the argument is supposed to be so they can gain a footprint with an established food distribution network, but I'd question whether it's a wide enough footprint to be worth what they're paying, and whether the distribution network is really strong enough to do what they'd want to be doing.

On top of that the product spread that the typical WF covers isn't necessarily conducive to the getting into the cutthroat general grocery shopping market (which is one reason WF is struggling to begin with). I'm not convinced there haven't been other grocery chains that have been struggling that they might have been able to buy up at a lower price and a wider distribution.

Just seems like an odd acquisition to me.

(We have a WF in our town finally, but while I've been in a couple of times, I don't shop there. It's not real convenient to get to, the prices on a lot of things I'd buy tend to range towards the laughable side, especially compared to the Meijer that's no more than a mile down the road from the WF. Even for those that subscribe to the questionable benefits of organic food, these days the selection of organics that you can get at Meijer have reached the point where you're probably *still* better off shopping at the Meijer (and this is on reason WF has had problems, a lot of the more basic chains jumped on the organic fad well enough that they had a reasonable selection for people that want that, and it's at prices that easily beat the WF prices). And their parking lot is terrible, with bad navigation through it and ridiculously narrow parking spots.)
posted by piper28 at 12:27 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


I would sell everyone I know to the glue factory if I could use Amazon Prime's Subscribe & Save to get a Whole Foods double chocolate muffin delivered every day.
posted by srboisvert at 12:32 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


Between Walmart and Amazon in retail, Google vs Facebook on the Internet, and Apple against Samsung in phones.

I am feeling like mouse trying not to get stepped on while these elephants fight each.


Are you US Alliance or Team Advantage?

posted by bongo_x at 12:43 PM on June 16 [3 favorites]


The patent, titled “Physical Store Online Shopping Control,” details a mechanism where a retailer can intercept network requests like URLs and search terms that happen on its in-store Wi-Fi, then act upon them in various ways.

Just for clarity, there was nothing preventing Amazon (or anyone else) from doing this previously. The patent merely grants Amazon the right to prevent other companies from doing so (or more likely, to charge other companies for the right to do so).
posted by Existential Dread at 1:03 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


This makes no sense to me. There is no way Canadians would forgo their beloved Superstore for overpriced food shipped via Amazon and arriving a week or more later.

Presumably fresh grocery deliveries from Amazon.ca would come from local warehouses and be available on a same-day, next-day, or pre-scheduled delivery cycle (e.g. reserve delivery window for next Tuesday between 10-12). It would be more like the existing Amazon Fresh, Peapod, or Instacart model.

(And I would probably not want to be in the shoes of Instacart right now, as one of their major partners just got bought by an 800-pound-gorilla in the space.)
posted by theorique at 1:08 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


HOW WILL AMAZON CHANGE WHOLE FOODS? (via MADmag)

I'm just kinda relieved they DIDN'T go after Costco or Trader Joes... yet.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:21 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


Whole Foods has a lot of really good positions in the food industry. It makes sense that amazon would buy them. They are primed for a massive tech investment that innovates the food industry forward.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:23 PM on June 16



Just for clarity, there was nothing preventing Amazon (or anyone else) from doing this previously. The patent merely grants Amazon the right to prevent other companies from doing so (or more likely, to charge other companies for the right to do so).

In theory, net neutrality laws might kneecap this sort of behavior. But the Republicans are tripping over themselves to undo any network neutrality at all, so I imagine this tech will be the norm rather than the exception sooner rather than later.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:30 PM on June 16


I don't know why Bezos bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion when he could've gone to Trader Joe's and paid, like, half as much.
posted by me3dia at 1:40 PM on June 16 [13 favorites]


They are primed for a massive tech investment that innovates the food industry forward.

Innovation doesn't, per se, lead forward. It just innovates. Makes a change. It can easily head backwards by many measures. Often, an innovation heads forwards for some, and backwards for many more simultaneously.

A 6000 lb leviathan will certainly move an industry forward for some of the true believers. The rest, though, may simply have no choice but to be swept along in the wake.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:01 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


"GNU/Stallman is so outside the mainstream conversation that I doubt he's going to change anyone's mind." Mine, for starters. If I were having a conversation with your mom, then I probably wouldn't link her to Richard Stallman's blog, that's true. But that doesn't make what he says any less valid. I have to admit that I'm surprised I have to even argue in favor of a mammoth capitalist giant with someone named after Trotsky. For those of you who use Amazon, why is it you feel comfortable supporting this company in spite of these bad things that they do?
posted by koavf at 2:02 PM on June 16 [5 favorites]


They are primed for a massive tech investment that innovates the food industry forward.

You're right, and I think it will have a significant impact nationwide. But I live in SoCal, and comparing what I'm reading here to my own situation is making me notice that I kind of live in a special area. Around here, there's been a solid growth in different kinds of supermarkets and this is mostly hurting the "mainstream" or traditional markets like Vons, Albertson's, and Stater Bros. I think the acquisition might very well accelerate that trend, but I don't think it will hurt supermarkets that cater to a certain community or audience. In fact, I would argue that at least for Chinese supermarkets, this is how part of the community forms, because I remember as a kid the number of times my parents bumped into clients or folks they do business with at 99 Ranch.

And even though Whole Foods probably does sell kimchi, cold udon, or salsa, I still would rather go to Zion Mart, Mitsuwa, and Northgate for better and probably cheaper versions of all of them.

I'd like to say with full confidence that Amazon won't change things here, but who knows?
posted by FJT at 2:09 PM on June 16


I would sell everyone I know to the glue factory if I could use Amazon Prime's Subscribe & Save to get a Whole Foods double chocolate muffin delivered every day.
posted by srboisvert at 12:32 PM on June 16 [+] [!]


A-and this is why Amazon has personalized pricing!
posted by chavenet at 2:36 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


For those of you who use Amazon, why is it you feel comfortable supporting this company in spite of these bad things that they do?

Everything's different on the internet. The old rules don't apply.
posted by bongo_x at 2:41 PM on June 16


If you live in a rural area, Amazon is the only serious competition for Walmart. Unless you are wealthy enough to not care about prices, you do what you gotta do.
posted by Bee'sWing at 3:23 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


If you live in a rural area, Amazon is the only serious competition for Walmart. Unless you are wealthy enough to not care about prices, you do what you gotta do.


And everything is relative. I don't shop at either place, but I don't have to. I remember though having a conversation with my dad and telling him I didn't like Walmart and didn't shop there. He told me he loved them, because when he was a kid they were a life saver, the only store that would come to rural areas, and brought variety and competitive pricing. Before them there was very little choice and they felt shop owners took advantage of them.

But I live in a city.
posted by bongo_x at 3:30 PM on June 16 [6 favorites]


A-and this is why Amazon has personalized pricing!

Not sure what you mean by "personalized pricing." Many items on Amazon have multiple offers from different sellers (Amazon and 3rd-party). Everyone can choose from the exact same set of offers. Amazon just changes the default offer displayed based on factors that nobody but them fully understands. The rough algorithm aims maximize value to the buyer in terms of low price, reliability of the vendor, delivery time, etc.

What Amazon doesn't do is show me an item for $4.99 that only you can purchase for $3.99. We can both buy it for $3.99 (assuming there's enough stock of course).
posted by paulcole at 3:44 PM on June 16


I try to avoid Amazon, which isn't easy when you (reluctantly, temporarily) live in a small town. I sincerely hope he keeps his grubby hands off Aldi.
posted by she's not there at 4:02 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


And when Amazon puts every grocery store out of business, what will happen to those too poor to have an internet account or too poor to meet the minimum grocery order requirements?
posted by Beholder at 4:39 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


"Jeff Bezos: "Alexa, buy me something from Whole Foods."
Alexa: "Sure, Jeff. Buying Whole Foods now."
Jeff Bezos: "WHA- ahh go ahead.""


I read this tweet out loud and Alexa started telling me all about Jeff's purchase of Whole Foods, it was a little freaky.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:54 PM on June 16 [4 favorites]


Jeff Bezos: "Alexa, buy me something from Whole Foods."

Alexa: "Sure, Jeff. Buying Whole Foods now."

Jeff Bezos: "WHA- ahh go ahead."


Bezos: "Eh, it could've been worse, I could've bought Uber."
posted by bendy at 5:02 PM on June 16


If they manage to figure out a way that I can download wine directly to my Kindle, then I'm all in on this.

Amazon already delivers wine and beer here, so I'm sure the download option is coming soon.

The Fresh deliveries are convenient, but their selection can be hit or miss. The pricing seems close to what I pay at the grocery store, or maybe a bit higher but not outrageously so. Adding the distribution and selection of Whole Foods would seem like a real win for Amazon.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:05 PM on June 16 [3 favorites]


I read this tweet out loud and Alexa started telling me all about Jeff's purchase of Whole Foods, it was a little freaky.

And yet that thing is still in your house and you didn't throw it out the front door?
posted by bongo_x at 5:17 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


"And yet that thing is still in your house and you didn't throw it out the front door?"

Well, it plays 20 questions with my kids, tells them dad jokes, and answers all their irritating questions, and I may be willing to submit to surveillance capitalism for a short break from having to answer all my kids' questions.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:33 PM on June 16 [9 favorites]


For those of you who use Amazon, why is it you feel comfortable supporting this company in spite of these bad things that they do?

It's how I support the Washington Post.
posted by srboisvert at 6:43 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


I can't wait to eat all the delicious used cardboard from my Prime orders!
posted by overeducated_alligator at 7:36 PM on June 16


I may be willing to submit to surveillance capitalism for a short break from having to answer all my kids' questions.

Yes, but doesn't it give them the correct answers, and therefore eliminate one of the biggest perks of having kids?
posted by bongo_x at 7:40 PM on June 16 [6 favorites]


That's cute, bongo_x (and yes, it is quite a perk...)
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:07 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


For those of you who use Amazon, why is it you feel comfortable supporting this company in spite of these bad things that they do?

Because their pricing is generally far better than brick and mortar stores, and I can check the quality more easily. Also, going outside is not easy for me.
posted by corb at 8:11 PM on June 16 [3 favorites]


Bezos is monomaniacal in his drive to sell All The Things and I just don't trust any human with that much power. I try my damnedest to not buy from them but the last two things I ordered from eBay were shipped from fucking Amazon, screwing both my principles and my pocketbook.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:51 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


None of our unelected rulers will ever help any of us if it infringes on their interests.

probably true. although, given the events of the past year, our elected rulers seem hardly better.
posted by wibari at 9:20 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


Maybe we have less purchasing power than we believe.
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:59 AM on June 17


I just spent way too much time reading that mushroom FPP -- that got SO mean SO fast.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:32 AM on June 17 [2 favorites]


I have to admit that I'm surprised I have to even argue in favor of a mammoth capitalist giant with someone named after Trotsky. For those of you who use Amazon, why is it you feel comfortable supporting this company in spite of these bad things that they do?

We have cameras.


Sorry. Basically any company that large in our current system is going to have some ethical issues. Find me one that doesn't.

...and I'm a t&e attorney who used to be financial advisor. The name is basically ironic at this point (though not when i picked it, then it was just because I wanted a distinct yahoo mail address and joestalin was taken. High school kids are dumb.)
posted by leotrotsky at 5:47 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Whole Foods, at least in my area, has been a pretty good employer at the store level-- one of the few left in retail and food. I'll be sad if that changes.
posted by BibiRose at 7:36 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


From Twitter:
@KrangTNelson 3h3 hours ago
AMAZON, 1998: hello we sell books but online
AMAZON, 2023: please return to your Primehouse for your nightly Primemeal, valued Primecitizen


If I can bring my cat, I'm in.
posted by Preserver at 8:30 AM on June 17


I'm so weary of cooking for my family that a Primemeal sounds like an okay option. Where do I subscribe and save?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:31 AM on June 17


Speaking as someone who currently annoys the living hell out of retail workers*

I wish people wouldn't do this.
posted by BibiRose at 10:06 AM on June 17 [2 favorites]


And yet that thing is still in your house and you didn't throw it out the front door?"

Well, it plays 20 questions with my kids, tells them dad jokes, and answers all their irritating questions, and I may be willing to submit to surveillance capitalism for a short break from having to answer all my kids' questions.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:33 PM on June 16 [7 favorites +] [!]


AskMe is here for your questions and all of your kids' sock puppet questions.

The truth come out about why two questions a week are now allowed....
posted by mightshould at 1:00 PM on June 17


I may be willing to submit to surveillance capitalism for a short break from having to answer all my kids' questions.

Soooo...You're ok with a multi-billion-dollar capitalist machine teaching your children? That's what answering their questions is, y'know. Teaching. However annoying you may think they are, deferring their questions to the corporation is telling them that the profit-driven, capitalist voice is always right.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:17 AM on June 18


deferring their questions to the corporation is telling them that the profit-driven, capitalist voice is always right

...which, if we're going to be fair and balanced about it, it always totally is.

Most watched most trusted.
posted by flabdablet at 6:48 AM on June 18


Okay, so, which ones of us are going to go and help Eyebrows mind her children, though?

I think that those of us who can readily avoid Amazon, etc, have a responsibility to do so, not just engage with them because they're fun or cheap. But I think we also have some responsibility to try to create solutions so that people who can't start to have options. If someone lives in a place where Walmart or Amazon are the only realistic options, that's different from someone who lives in a place where there are other accessible choices. We who have other choices should make them, but we also have to support/create/advocate for other options.

I would suggest that, since we all know that mothers don't really get breaks, maybe this does include looking at childcare, etc. On average, "OMG I am overwhelmed, this thing will give me a break now" is always going to win over "OMG I am overwhelmed, but I will be totally strong!!!!"

I am developing a new philosophy for the age of Trump which is called "And I hope we all rise to the occasion". Rising to the occasion means that where in the past we could be a little lazy and a little self-indulgent, now we have to look honestly at our lives and see what we can really do and not do, and then we have to do stuff, and we have to be real about when people can't do stuff. We need to be real about ourselves. There are a lot of times, for me, where "can't" is really more "this is kind of inconvenient and that makes it hard". Rising to the occasion is about moving past that. Rising to the occasion is about recognizing that if we want something to happen, we have to be ready to make it happen, or at least have a try.

So I mean, the starting point for "don't engage with surveillance capitalism" is not, IMO, people who need support; it's people who are, for the sake of convenience, doing something they can do without. It's not much use to tell someone to do without something they need when there's no replacement.
posted by Frowner at 6:58 AM on June 18 [12 favorites]


I'm an academic, and books are my tools. I also have to maintain an active research agenda as per my contract, although we don't have a research library; the nearest library with holdings relevant to my interests is, alas, not the one in the closest city, but the one that's one hundred miles away. So, while I do lots of ILL-ing, if I expect to refer to a book over a period of years, then I buy it. Now, here's the thing: because academic monographs are priced almost entirely for the institutional market (with some honorable exceptions), I buy nearly everything secondhand. EBay, for no doubt complicated reasons, has become useless as a resource for scholarly books, although it's great for antiquarian stuff; Barnes and Noble has always had a terrible academic selection. But guess where the secondhand dealers who do sell monographs have moved their shopfronts? In some cases, I can avoid Amazon entirely and buy from the dealer directly, but often, the dealer is...on Amazon. That's it. So I wind up giving Amazon money, even though the books usually aren't stocked in Amazon's warehouses or otherwise moving through their hands.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:38 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


leotrotsky: I don't doubt that those companies have problems, but my mom isn't going to be librebooting anytime soon.

Mine converted to Linux Mint at the tender age of 78 and she's doing fine. Change is possible.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:42 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Indeed.

Most people don't know how to admin a Linux box, but then most people don't know how to admin a Windows box either; people just adapt to using (badly) whatever is installed on whatever they own.

It's been my experience over the last ten years that senior citizens in particular are more comfortable with a desktop experience that feels more like Windows 95 / Office 97 than a smartphone; and it's much less trouble to set up Debian or Mint or even Ubuntu to work that way than either Windows or OS X.

I currently look after four Debian installations and two Windows installations for customers over 70 years old, and I spend about twice as much time fixing breakage on the Winboxen.
posted by flabdablet at 2:58 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


I am going to get an Amazon Dash button for portobello mushrooms in MiHail's honor.
posted by ejs at 7:15 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Reasons not to buy from Amazon. No one should use this company—it's too big.

Reasons to buy from Amazon: Rather than using Uber (or Lyft) to help transport my large items (bags of pet food, mainly, which most annoyingly the nearby location has ceased to stock) home from the grocery store owned by people who dumped a bunch of money into the anti-MMJ campaign last year, I can order the large stuff and nonperishables from Amazon, who sends the stuff over in the hands of a person who gets paid $18 an hour plus tips to do it and charges me about the same as the grocery store. (Some things are the same or a bit more, but others are cheaper, so it averages out)

Were it not for Prime Now, I probably would have broken down and bought another car by this point.
posted by wierdo at 8:03 AM on June 19


Did you mean portabello mushrooms?
posted by flabdablet at 8:16 AM on June 19


For those of you who use Amazon, why is it you feel comfortable supporting this company in spite of these bad things that they do?

I live in a rural area and sometimes need things which I can't get around here or where the choice is super limited. Things that I would have to drive 1- 2 hours to have a hope of finding. Before amazon and online shopping world this meant first making sure I knew exactly what it was I wanted and spending time calling stores to make sure they had things. It makes no sense to me to drive an hour or more to buy a 10$ item that I can just have show up at my door in a couple of days. It also makes no sense to me to drive for hours just to see what stores have and run the risk of no store having what I need or spending hours driving around to different stores and just looking. Why would I do this if I can sit at home and do the same thing in minutes.

I also hate physically shopping with no specific item goal with a passion. I don't enjoy just going to stores to browse and maybe discover something cool. I will browse in brick and mortar stores but only if I'm around them as a by-product of some specific purpose or if I'm somewhere on holiday or something. Shoes are pretty much the only product that I will go out specifically to browse for and that happens about twice a year now.

I don't just use Amazon. I check other online places as well to compare prices and similar items. If the prices are similar I will tend to go with the not Amazon offering. If I need it urgently I generally go with Amazon.
posted by Jalliah at 8:52 AM on June 19


Nobody's arguing against online sales per se. If there were even one more viable competitor to RAMJAC Amazon, I wouldn't be so worried.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:48 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Amazon does have competitors for pretty much everything they sell, though no one website has the same breadth of choice. Much of that is because of third party sellers using their platform, though. I suppose that's why so many others are doing the same now, much to my annoyance.
posted by wierdo at 10:27 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


who sends the stuff over in the hands of a person who gets paid $18 an hour plus tips to do it and charges me about the same as the grocery store.

I think Amazon drivers have said that it takes longer time to pick up and deliver packages than what Amazon counts/pays by the hour. But all this is kind of moot in a few years, since Amazon is planning for drones and automated cars to deliver goods anyways.
posted by FJT at 10:33 AM on June 19


Amazon plans to slash jobs, dump cashiers and switch to cheaper products now that it owns Whole Foods. From Whole Paycheck to No Paycheck, that's the way of the world.

What's not to love, right? When those of us still in employment live surrounded by beggars and shantytowns, we can just work from home and have Amazon drone-drop our single-source olive oil or whatever.
posted by Frowner at 11:10 AM on June 19 [8 favorites]


I think Amazon drivers have said that it takes longer time to pick up and deliver packages than what Amazon counts/pays by the hour. But all this is kind of moot in a few years, since Amazon is planning for drones and automated cars to deliver goods anyways.

(Prime Now) Drivers sign up for 2-4 hour blocks and get paid for the entire block despite the routes rarely taking the full time. They even get paid for the full block when it turns out there are no deliveries to be made and they immediately are sent home.

It is true that drivers who are new to the deal sometimes have trouble completing a route in the allotted time, but there is nothing stopping them from showing up at the warehouse at the end of their block and giving the incomplete deliveries back.

Yes, efficient package delivery is a skill that takes a bit to get the hang of, but once you do, Amazon's pay structure makes it a pretty sweet deal. It's better than working for Lasership or one of the white van contractors, anyway. Even if it takes an extra hour you're still getting a better hourly rate than you get from anybody aside from FedEx or UPS (or the Post Office, assuming you can get a permanent position there, which is nearly impossible, leaving you working at the much lower temp payscale)

They may treat warehouse workers like ass, but the Flex drivers have it pretty good, as far as gig work goes, anyway.
posted by wierdo at 11:26 AM on June 19 [5 favorites]




What's not to love, right? When those of us still in employment live surrounded by beggars and shantytowns, we can just work from home and have Amazon drone-drop our single-source olive oil or whatever.

If you're not going to be programming or repairing or building or otherwise supporting the machines, you are going to be left behind. It's as simple as that. 'Unskilled labor' is labor that is going to be replaced by machines. There's no way to stop it from happening.
posted by empath at 7:02 PM on June 22


Oliver Staley, Quartz: Is Amazon too big? What Jeff Bezos can learn from John D. Rockefeller
Amazon isn’t yet a monopoly on the scale of Standard Oil, which at one point controlled 90% of US oil refining. But massive tech companies like Amazon and Alphabet (née Google) have a similar impact (paywall), warping the US economy by swallowing up competitors, choking off access to their platforms, and fueling income inequality. Their immense size and the concentrations of wealth they produce is making policymakers nervous, and a backlash of some form may be brewing. Calls for regulators to check the power of the new tech giants are beginning to grow louder.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:41 AM on June 24


John Naughton, Guardian: Tech giants face no contest when it comes to competition law
Just consider the numbers. According to New York Times figures for the US, Amazon now accounts for 43% of all online retail sales; half of all online shopping searches start on Amazon (eat your heart out, Google); in 2016, the company had revenues of $63bn from online sales – which is more than the next top 10 online retailers combined; it controls 74% of ebook sales, and is soon set to become the biggest clothing retailer in the US. AWS, for its part, has become a $10bn annual revenue business with more than 50% of big companies preferring it to rivals – market share is expected to reach 64% in three years.

By any common-sense yardstick, therefore, Amazon wields monopoly power and its activities should trigger action by regulators. The problem is that US antitrust (competition) law has long parted company with common sense. The rot set in when Robert Bork published The Antitrust Paradox in 1978, in which he argued that competition law had become too focused on preventing cartels, price-fixing and mergers that create monopolies, and should return instead to what he claimed was its original concern with protecting consumers. This view was then energetically promulgated by the influential Chicago Law School and seems to have become the conventional wisdom of competition authorities across the world.

Crudely put, the implication of the Bork view is that no matter how big or dominant a company becomes, if there’s no evidence that its dominance is harming consumers, then there’s no antitrust concern. And the digital giants that now dominate the landscape have driven a coach and horses through this loophole. Google and Facebook, for example, argue that since they are providing superb free services that are highly valued by consumers, then punishing them simply for their market dominance would amount to penalising excellence and efficiency.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:11 AM on June 25


Elizabeth Weise, USA Today: Is Amazon getting too big?
While customers have flocked to its low prices, speedy delivery and customer service, it’s a different matter for suppliers. Even as they benefit from instant access to a massive online customer base, Amazon's market size gives it the power to inflict increasingly tough terms on its partners, driving down prices and passing on the savings to customers.

“If people thought Walmart was bad, Amazon’s taken it to an entirely new level,” said Mark Coker, founder of SmashWords, an early ebook distributor. “They want to eliminate everyone who stands between the producer of the product and the store.”

Amazon declined to comment for this report.

Another concern: as more people enter the Amazon ecosystem, that makes it harder for producers to sell to customers outside it.

Lina Khan, a legal fellow with the Open Markets program at the New America Foundation, worries this will be detrimental to the economy.

“We have to ask whether there are costs to this dominance that we might in the long term regret,” she said. “Amazon has emerged as a gatekeeper. Are we comfortable with one company picking the winners and losers in e-commerce?”

There's little relief from anti-trust law because these laws focus on consumer welfare, which Amazon excels at, she said.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:34 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


JASON DEL REY AND RANI MOLLA, recode: Amazon Prime is on pace to become more popular than cable TV
The implication here is not that Amazon’s Prime Video service is more popular than TV; the main reason most people subscribe to Amazon Prime is still the fast delivery of products.

But it is an indication that Prime is moving toward becoming a “no-brainer” for more than just wealthy Americans. To that end, Amazon has been courting lower-income American households with discounts for those on government assistance, as well as a monthly payment option for those who don’t want to cough up $99 for an annual subscription.

These growth tactics are important, since more than 80 percent of America’s wealthiest households already pay for Prime. And Amazon knows that Prime is the core of its retail business: Prime members spend more in a year than non-Prime members do, shop more frequently than others and price-compare less, according to studies.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:59 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


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