Monday, August 29, 2011

Whole Foods opens first membership-only wellness club

Back in February we learned that Whole Foods was planning to open Wellness Clubs in select stores. Last week, USA Today reported that the first club opened in Dedham, MA, and additional sites are coming soon at Whole Foods locations in Princeton, Manhattan (Tribeca), Chicago and Oakland.

The membership-only clubs will cost $45 per month plus a one-time fee of $199. Members will have access to lifestyle evaluations (I assume shopping at Whole Foods will garner initial high marks) and access to nutrition, cooking and health classes. They will also get discounts on 1,000 "better-for-you" foods sold in the stores.

Whole Foods Founder and Co-CEO John Mackey says 10 additional Wellness Clubs could be rolled out in 2012 if the first five are successful, and the program could go national in 2013.

There is no doubt other retailers will pay close attention. If Whole Foods finds the program successful - meaning that thousands of customers forked over $739 for the service in year one - similar programs are bound to pop up at other retailers who are health conscious, or at least want to be.

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