Sam and Ralph


Whole Foods was essentially our first major competitor when in 1990, Fresh Fields (soon to be purchased by WF) opened a mile up the street from our tiny retail outlet in Rockville.

People frequently ask me how we’ve been able to compete against WF- or what I think of them in general.  Maybe to their surprise, I usually offer praise.

Since I began this business back in 1987, I estimate that the organic food retail industry in the DC/Baltimore region has grown about seventy-fold (7000%).  I have no doubt that over the decades, WF has helped to expand this industry.

WF takes aim at the masses of consumers who shop at conventionals such as Safeway and Giant.  To be most effective, WF spends lots of money on marketing and shiny fancy stores, which exposes many mainstream consumers to organic foods.

WF has done a lot to put organic foods on the map – and of the large grocery chains, they have been the most socially responsible (however, I will discuss some recent concerns I have in this regard later on this blog).

As consumers move from conventional grocers to WF, WF acts as a stepping stone to MOM’s.  After a process that I estimate takes a few years, some consumers find MOM’s as they become more dedicated to organics and the environment and yearn for more organic products, only certified organic produce, higher ingredient standards, and cheaper prices (due to our low frills model and the word-of-mouth of our most loyal customers).

So, while we at MOM’s compete fiercely with WF, I see the competition between us more like the Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph the Coyote characters of Looney Tunes cartoons who compete fiercely during the day- and then punch the clock at the end of the day and say “Have a good evening- see you tomorrow”…

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6 Responses to Sam and Ralph

  1. Cate says:

    I totally agree. I was happy to have Fresh Fields available, but even happier when I discovered MOMs. I found MOMs to have a better selection of certain items I was looking for, and they were happy to special order items for me (not that FF/WF might not have been, I just never tried them). MOMs also had a better selection of organic items – AND – they were consistently cheaper than FF/WF. They also seemed to cater more to “green”ness. I like Whole Foods, but I like MOMs even better. Thanks for providing that niche.

  2. Que says:

    MOM provides a cozy and friendly environment for a more pleasant shopping experience. MOM feels more personal while WF seems to cater to the masses. The employees at MOM appear to be part of the organic/green community while WF’s employees are, well… just working there.

  3. Ross says:

    For me, a big part of the benefit of MOM’s is that it lets me be lazy.

    Especially so in the produce section, where everything is organic. Period.

    I go to WF (which is a useful supplement to the main meal that is MOMs) once in a while, but I dread the produce section. What’s organic? What’s not? Did it
    change this week? Are there two piles of the same vegetable, one organic
    and one not? Too much work for a lazy person.

    Also, they edge right up to the deceptive/manipulative line on their labeling. They color code their conventional/organic differently. Now, …what *color* would you associate with “organic”? Green, right? Well that’s the color they use for
    their “Conventional” produce. “Organic” gets an off-orange color. Not cool.

    Speaking of deceptive, what’s even worse: WF (along with Stonyfield and some other CorpFirsters) have essentially rolled over and shown their quivering belly to Monsanto. They’ve agreed not to fight the GMO labeling issue. This is, for me, enormous. Just the idea that Dr. Frankenstein can put his fractured genome pieces in my food without so much as a label to warn me, is a massive “screw you” to the consumer.

    I understand that maybe most consumers just don’t care about GMO. Maybe they even feel like genetically-engineered and transgenic food is a blessing. That’s fine, and more power to them. I am not on a mission to rid the world of GMO, just my own family’s plate. So, I don’t need a cigarette-like warning label on food, just something that tells me GMO are involved. No big deal. No drama.

    But WF no longer will supports GMO labeling. I can’t trust their food any longer. I have to pay too much attention. That’s hard for a lazy person.

    So, reasons to “lean local” on food: (a) know your farmer and his methods, (b) fresher food and (c) keep money close in the economy.

  4. George says:

    Scott – I am concerned with the latest Obama admin ruling which allows for GM Alfalfa – how will this affect our organic food choices???

    • Scott says:

      Hi George. I’m concerned as well. It’s frightening- and I despise Monsanto and their cohorts. We who believe in organic farming are a passionate group- and I’m hopeful that all sectors within the organic industry from the farmer to the consumer and everybody in between will find a way of protecting and demanding non-GMO products!

  5. Luc says:

    I believe GM inbiihts the will to live. It disrupts the natural process.Scientists who practise GM in this form have a short term vision: profit’ or direct gain’, they do not understand what has made the genes to exist in its complexity.Essentially it is very easy to understand: the physical can’t be the source for the physical. These scientists are like athiests, they only believe in what we can see / measure. They think Gene X has result Y and it is nothing more then that.But how could this logically be? The source of life and the comple genetic coherence is more then the building blocks. It is more than we can possibly measure/see.I don’t believe in God, but I think it is more stupid to believe there is nothing more then we can see.If you would mess with the genes, you actually create something that should be as it is and therefor inhibit the will to live.

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