Whole Foods founder said Jeff Bezos is a ‘genius’ who got rid of the ‘whole paycheck’ stigma

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Whole Foods’ prices have never been more accessible to consumers and the chain has Jeff Bezos and Amazon to thank, said its founder.

John Mackey, who founded Whole Foods in 1980 with a staff of 19 people, said after Amazon acquired the company in 2017 it shed its “whole paycheck,” reputation for sticker shock.  

“Amazon let us drop our prices four times,” Mackey told Fortune. “I hardly ever hear the ‘whole paycheck’ narrative any longer—that’s due to Amazon.”

Although slashing prices cost the business revenue in the short term, Mackey knew it would make it stronger in the future, and he credits Amazon’s former CEO and current executive chairman Jeff Bezos with having the foresight to take that chance.

“Jeff’s a brilliant man; he’s a genius,” Mackey said “What I like about Jeff the most, besides he’s creative and entrepreneurial, is he thinks really long term.”

The organic supermarket chain is now going further to help attract consumers on a budget. The company has doubled down on sales and discounts for many products as well as savings options for Amazon Prime members. Last month at the Milken Institute Global Conference, Whole Foods CEO Jason Buechel told Yahoo Finance that the company plans to open 30 stores a year.

Whole Foods’ efforts to cut prices are especially timely as inflation continues to weigh on Americans’ grocery budgets. Although inflation at the grocery store has shown signs of easing in recent months, prices are still 21% higher than they were in January 2021.

Apart from letting Whole Foods drop its prices, Amazon also gave employees a pay bump, Mackey added, and unlike other acquisitions in the business world, Amazon didn’t try to force its culture on the company. 

“They didn’t try to change Whole Foods,” he said.

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