I was about to post the article below when the story of the Whole Foods CEO broke on the ABC Evening News. Since this is a great example of hot not to do business, I thought it appropriate to mention.
Aside from being sleazy, unethical and probably illegal, the actions of Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey were just plain stupid and his claim that it was "just a joke" is as lame as they come.
These kinds of underhanded tactics, reminiscent of the old time politicians who used to tie return postage cards to bricks in an attempt to bankrupt their opponents, represent the worst of the worst in the business community.
What makes it even dumber is that he did it with a business whose target customer is a cultural creative. I won't buy anything in Whole Foods again until he's fired. I cannot, in good conscience, contribute to this type of behavior. I don';t care how cute he thinks it is. It's not.
The article below was written prior to learning about this debacle but it offers an alternative way to conduct oneself in a business.
A prime retail location recently became available on Main Street in the heart of downtown Doylestown, Pennsylvania. An upscale, charming community, with a good amount of local and tourist activity.
Nestled amongst upscale restaurants, unique shops, local bookstore and trendy national brands like Chico's, The Gap and Starbucks, one could only wonder what would fill this newly vacated space.
What opened there, probably the last type of store anyone would have guessed and certainly one which a business school professor would have vetoed, was a competing brand of coffee.
At first glance you might question the sanity of the decision to open a coffee shop two doors down from a Starbucks, however, upon closer examination it becomes apparent that not only will the newly opened location survive, but more likely will thrive.
You see the new business, The Bucks County Coffee Company, has the business savvy to differentiate themselves from the national brand.
In all fairness to The Bucks County Coffee Company, they do have a high profile since Doylestown is the county seat of Bucks County, PA and the company has been known throughout the area for years.
The real significance however, is that they are clearly not attempting to go "head-to-head" with the Starbucks giant, but rather to play on their uniqueness and emphasize their differences.
This is the lesson for all small businesses, especially those who are faced with a national brand, or a big box store coming to town.
The way to succeed in a competitive environment is to look for ways that you can emphasize your strengths without taking away from the other business.
In the abundant universe we live in, there is always plenty to go around, providing you stay focused on what is working and avoid, at all costs, getting into a state of feeling lack or thinking "life is a dog eat dog" proposition.
Doing the latter will only attract more of the same and you will soon see your business failing.