Stew Leonard Jr.: Amazon Purchase Of Whole Foods “A Game-Changer”

Amazon’s proposed $13.4 billion purchase of Whole Foods has rocked the grocery and retail industries.

An hour ago, Stew Leonard Jr. was one of the experts CNBC called on for expert reaction.

Stew Leonard Jr. (Photo courtesy/Westchester Magazine)

The president and CEO of the small but influential chain called the deal — which includes a store on the Westport border just a mile from Stew’s Norwalk flagship location — “a game-changer in the industry.”

Amazon’s technological know-how “will revolutionize how people buy food and get it delivered,” he added.

Leonard — whose grandfather Charles Leo Leonard founded the store’s predecessor, Clover Farms Dairy, and personally delivered milk straight from the farm to local customers — saw today’s announcement as a return to those days.

“The cost of the last mile of delivery has been dropping,” he noted.

Leonard also cited the growing number of millennials as a factor. Using his 31-year-old daughter as an example, he said that her generation expects every purchase to be deliverable.

However, he continued, “retailers have to get snappier” about how they present the purchasing experience.

“We try to make it fun,” he said, with plenty of animation and the chance to see mozzarella balls being made fresh.

However, he acknowledged, buying cereal and water in a store is far less exciting.

(Click here for the full 4:42 interview.)

When Amazon gets into delivery of Whole Foods products, will the animals at Stew’s be less of a draw?

19 responses to “Stew Leonard Jr.: Amazon Purchase Of Whole Foods “A Game-Changer”

  1. Bruce Fernie - SHS 1970

    Jeff Bezos: “Alexa, buy me something from Whole Foods.”

    Alexa: “Sure, Jeff. Buying Whole Foods now.”

    Jeff Bezos: “Wait! – Ahh go ahead.”

  2. Matthew Mandell

    Milk by drone…… Soon you’ll wake up to a carton of milk on the stoop again. At 5am a drone will have dropped it off and gone to the next house.

    David Pogue spoke at the Chamber dinner this week and said the future will be robotic. Trucks on the highways all self driven. Future markets without employees…. Sounds cool, except for the massive unemployment that will occur. Yeah retrain, but the jobs that will be lost will be from those that are not trained now. Interesting times are a coming.

    • I think we are more likely to see more tech journalists, than truck drivers, replaced by robots. (But I’ve always been a contrarian.)

    • Nancy Hunter

      Plus, how to teach robots right from wrong? A cautionary tale, perhaps.

  3. Flavien Freedman

    Amazon press release says 13.7 billion?

  4. Nancy Hunter

    Back in my day, Amazon only sold books… remember? Books?

  5. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    If we could automate politicians and program them to their promises…..

  6. I remember that a year and a half ago “In late December 2015, Whole Foods agreed to settle allegations with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs that the chain overcharged customers. The settlement calls for the Whole Foods to pay a $500,000 fine and be more vigilant about its pricing practices.” So did they become honest in order to be a good buy for Amazon?

    • Nancy Hunter

      Organic fruit & vegetables = short shelf life, so good only for the daily shopper.
      However, why pay double for a fruit or vegetable with a skin? And why pay double for items like “organic” vanilla, etc.?

      Let the consumers shop wisely, or waste their money and food blindly.

  7. David Jones

    Amazon and Whole Foods should look at Stew Leonard as the model. True story, I was in Stews a few weeks back, and when saying goodbye, he saw a little girl walk in the store. She was with her Mom and dressed in a princess costume. Stew got down on one knee and told the little girl how pretty she looked. Amazon/Whole Foods?

  8. Phyllis Buziak

    I will go to Stew Leonard’s over Whole Foods any day of the week. Wis Stew’s as they are referred to in CT. would come to NJ. I have never been happy with Whole Foods.

  9. I prefer to select my food in person, rather than relying on a computer. Canned and packaged foods are standardized, but meats and produce have to be seen in person.

  10. Peter Barlow

    The Amazon take-over of Whole Foods may mean we can order a delicious chicken pot pie from Amazon but it will arrive in an over-sized box with no padding and may no longer be Whole.

    • Nancy Hunter

      Yes, another reason to consider “green can & yard trimmings” recycling.

  11. Cannot beat Stew’s for the joy of buying fresh food…..however, we do go to Whole Foods (Whole Paycheck) to get fresh ground peanut butter…..

  12. I only go by anecdotal evidence, but I suspect Whole Foods is a place for people who do not generally cook their own meals and probably don’t even like to cook.

    Inordinate amount of space is given to prepared foods that always look good, but usually taste quite bland. (Perhaps because they are “lean and healthy” or perhaps because they are prepared by people who don’t care too much about taste.)

    Prices are infamously high, and there is little sale-price advertising to draw people planning large family or group meals. People leave with relatively few bags, and the parking lot is rarely full, in contrast with Stew’s, where it is bustling to the point of being annoying.

    I believe Stew’s (and its cousins like Fairway and even Balducci’s) are for people who care about the taste of their food, while Whole Foods is for people who care about their food meeting standards set by the conventional wisdom, such as being labeled “natural,” “organic” or “sustainable.”

  13. There is a contradiction between delivery of everything –supposedly expected by all Millennials — and concern for the environment, which is shared by a large portion of the population of all generations.

    Even if you assume USPS and UPS vans pass every house every day, the delivery of fresh food adds still another layer of delivery vans…not to speak of all the extra packaging involved

    All these extra deliveries add to congestion and pollution. It is not a socially-responsible policy to promote “free” delivery.

  14. Phil Perlah

    Before we fall over ourselves extolling the merits of Stew Leonards, let’s not forget the few years Stew Senior spent in Danbury, as a guest of the Federal Government (tax evasion). Oh, and also not to forget the fines paid to the State for mis-weighing scales.