Whole Foods customers react to $13.7 billion Amazon merger

Courtney Hiddeman and her family live right down the street from the Whole Foods "world headquarters" on Bowie Street in Austin.
               
We ran into her making a grocery run -- a trip she makes quite often.

"I love the prepared foods and the produce," Hiddeman said.

Whole Foods Market was founded in 1978 and as organic food became all the rage, so did Whole Foods.  But competition with other organic grocery stores has become pretty stiff in recent years.

Friday morning, Hiddeman heard the news…Amazon is buying Whole Foods Market: a $13.7 billion deal.

"I'm a little concerned that the culture might change, the Whole Foods culture, but I'm kind of excited to see what Amazon's going to do with the brand," Hiddeman said.

Whole Foods sent a letter to customers after the merger announcement, calling the agreement a new chapter in Whole Foods' history and an incredible opportunity. 

"We want to assure you that Amazon shares Whole Foods Market's deep commitment to quality and customer service. We will continue to operate our stores and deliver the highest quality, delicious natural and organic products that you've come to love and trust from Whole Foods Market," Whole Foods told customers.

Kyle Bunch is with R/GA, a marketing, advertising and consulting firm right across from the Whole Foods headquarters.

Bunch says from a marketing perspective, this is a big deal.

"Maybe feels hyperbolic but I think it could be one of the biggest acquisitions in the last 20 years in terms of the ability to kind of bring together technological innovation and this sort of physical footprint that Whole Foods has," Bunch said.  "I think Amazon is very purposeful about taking the companies that they acquire and preserving the things that made those companies great and I think in the case of Whole Foods, it's a lot of the same values that are true to Austin and I think if anything you might start to see more Austin kind of show up in how Amazon does business in the world."

Amazon already offers grocery-delivery services in some cities but customers seem excited at the prospect that the Whole Foods deal will make food at your doorstep even easier.

"I'm excited to see maybe if they do some kind of thing with Prime now and Whole Foods, that would be interesting to me," Hiddeman said.

"If they actually, Amazon Prime, decides to deliver food to your home, boy that's great, it would be a wonderful thing!  A lot of people will love that," said Whole Foods customer Brad Anderson.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce sent Fox 7 a statement saying in part: "It's great to hear that Whole Foods, an iconic homegrown company, will remain an integral part of our local community. This game changing announcement is yet another example of the strong creative culture and talent throughout the Austin region that enables innovative businesses to start, grow, and attract a significant level of investment."

Apparently longtime CEO John Mackey will stay the CEO and the headquarters will stay in Austin.

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