Monday, December 8, 2008

Customer gets Whole Foods into the Christmas spirit

When it comes to getting businesses to acknowledge the name of the December 25 holiday, my friend Drusilla Barron shows that making an effort to enlighten them in the spirit of charity can get results.

Drusilla wrote:

To: Whole Foods
Store: CIR/New York City, NY - Columbus Circle [Northeast]
Date: December 6, 2008 - 1:20pm [Saturday]

Message: re: Signs posting Holiday Hours

You post signs that list the hours Whole Foods is open for "Thanksgiving" and "New Years" but between the two, you list, "Holiday" and then give the dates, December 24th and December 25th. Though I assume the decision to list the hours in this fashion was an attempt to avoid offense, the way you have listed them is, in fact, extremely insulting to the Christians who visit Whole Foods from all over the world - and the Columbus Circle store does receive many, many Christian visitors. Your decision is highly, highly offensive. If Thanksgiving and New Years are to listed by name, then the holiday that occurs on December 25th should be listed using its name, Christmas.

By your omission, you are actually highlighting Christmas in a negative fashion that you have decided should be some generic day; you send the message that Christmas is embarrassing, shameful. Yet Christmas is a federal, state and city holiday in the United States. Much of the world celebrates Christmas as a legal holiday. As do many, many of your customers. As does Whole Foods as is evidenced by your signs. You even sell products for the celebration of Christmas. Were this a holiday celebrated by any other religion, you would be more sensitive and not make such an omission if only to prevent negative publicity. It is vital that you show the same sensitivity to your Christian customers. (And, if this is Whole Foods' company-wide policy, you run the risk of offending a huge number of Christian customers. I doubt that is your desire.)

There are other options which will allow you to publish your holiday hours without offending any of your customers. An alternative is not to list the names of any holidays. You might simply post a sign headed "Holiday Hours" and then list the dates and hours without any mention of specific holidays at all. Or you might use as a model the signs in the lobby one floor above that give the hours for the Time-Warner building. Since there are alternatives, I look forward to seeing signs that are as sensitive to Christians as they would be to any other customers the next time I shop at Whole Foods.

Thank you very much.

Drusilla Barron

I spoke to the customer service staff about this during the Thanksgiving weekend but the signs had not been changed when I stopped in on 12/5.

Whole Foods responded:
On Sat, Dec 6, 2008 at 2:44 PM, Peter Ormand (NE CIR) wrote:

Drusilla Barron -

We sincerely apologize for any offense we may have caused you.

You are right and we have changed the sign.

Please rest assured that we have no store or company policy which would prevent us from using the word Christmas.

We always appreciate feedback from our customers; thank you for taking the time to tell us how you feel.

You will see our new sign, with our Christmas hours prominently display on your next visit to our store.

Thank you again,

Sincerely yours,

Peter Ormand
Assistant Store Team Leader
Whole Foods Market
Columbus Circle - New York, NY

Drusilla replied:
From: Drusilla Barron
Date: Sat, Dec 6, 2008 at 8:56 PM
Subject: Re: Website Comments: Store Policy
To: "Peter Ormand (NE CIR)"
Cc: NE CIR Store Team Leaders

Dear Mr. Ormand -

Thank you very much. I'll let my friends here in NY and across the country know of your appropriate and immediate response. I look forward to continuing to shop at Whole Foods.

Drusilla Barron