Saturday, August 1, 2009

How To Make a Million Dollars at Whole Foods


Love Whole Foods' huge selection of delicious-looking organic meats, produce, groceries and hemp hats? Hate their Buffy-on-holiday-in-Aspen pricing scheme? I figured out a way to not just get free stuff at Whole Foods, but to actually make money.

Yes, a person with sufficent chutzpah could actually make a few bucks. As any diehard Whole Foods shopper knows, if you bring a shopping bag with you (preferably made of hemp), the cashier will offer you a bag credit (or will donate to charity, probably to the widows and orphans of organic hemp farmers) of five cents.

So yesterday, we purchased three serrano chiles, priced at the 300% inflated rate of $2.99 (Berkeley Bowl offers the same conventionally grown peppers for about a dollar a pound). Luckily, serranos are very light, even if they pack a heavy capiscum payload, and they were only 12 cents. Curious, I asked the cashier what would happen if I had only bought one pepper, which would have been about three or four cents, and asked for a bag credit.

"I guess I'd have to give you change," was the answer.

Nice! Here's the scheme: buy the smallest pepper you can find, present bag, take change, and repeat. Figuring 5-10 minutes for the process ( I always seem to pick the slowest-moving checkstand) and an average of one to two cents per transaction, you could make a cool million bucks in just 380 years, if you could find a 24-hour Whole Foods and you were an eternal being who did not require food or sleep. Probably a better living than farming hemp...