Whole Foods Plans Club Fees

NANTUCKET, Mass. — Whole Foods Market said at an analyst conference here last week it plans to charge a monthly fee of about $40 or $50 when it begins opening in-store wellness clubs later this year. As previously reported, Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods plans to test five of the clubs, which will offer nutrition education, discounts on groceries and other health-related benefits. In a press release

NANTUCKET, Mass. — Whole Foods Market said at an analyst conference here last week it plans to charge a monthly fee of about $40 or $50 when it begins opening in-store wellness clubs later this year.

As previously reported, Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods plans to test five of the clubs, which will offer nutrition education, discounts on groceries and other health-related benefits.

In a press release on Whole Foods' website, the company said the first of the wellness clubs — an outgrowth of its “Health Starts Here” nutrition education program — is scheduled to open in mid-August in Dedham, Mass. That release also states that members will receive a 10% discount on “healthy foods.” It does not mention a monthly fee.

A Whole Foods spokesman confirmed to SN that the Dedham store was planned as the first for the wellness clubs. She said the specific fee for joining the clubs had not yet been determined.

Robb, speaking at the Jefferies & Co. Global Consumer Conference here, said the clubs would be tested in five different cities with an initial investment of less than $5 million in total.

Whole Foods previously had said the first five clubs would be located in New York; Chicago; Boston; Oakland, Calif.; and Princeton, N.J.

At the Dedham store — presumably the Boston location the company previously had described — the company relocated some of the merchandise to make room for the new club. It named Heather Hardy, a certified holistic health counselor, as its wellness club team leader.

“The mission of the Wellness Club is to provide an inviting environment where members are empowered to make educated and positive lifestyle choices that promote their long-term health and well-being through coaching, delicious food and a supportive community,” Whole Foods said in the release. “It will feature courses and lectures developed by medical doctors, inspirational and informative skill-building classes, supper clubs and special events, coaching and support.”

Robb said the company designed a curriculum for the wellness clubs in partnership with “a couple of medical doctors.”

“It's sort of our proprietary approach to this idea,” he said.

The company also plans to test a partnership with local doctors to perform blood work “and that sort of thing” as part of the clubs' offerings, Robb said.