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Photography by PHUONG NGUYEN

Whole Foods is the healthy, upscale grocery store that’s swiftly become its own force to be reckoned with. From must-have items, fresh organic produce, the beauty section, and more, the entire chain has branded itself as a destination for purchasing top-notch goods rather than being a traditional, ho-hum grocery store. And since Whole Foods isn’t your average grocery store, they don’t want you to have an average shopping experience. Take it from them: There are a few cardinal rules for shopping in-store. Ahead, everything to be mindful of during your Whole Foods shopping experience.

DO

 ask your fishmonger to peel and devein your shrimp for you.

They do this for customers at no charge – and they’ll also debone filets!

DO

 bring your own reusable bag.

Like many grocers, Whole Foods has adopted a policy that rewards recyclability by incentivizing you to bring your own bags. If you do, you’ll get a bag discount anywhere from $0.05 to $0.10 depending on the store policy (if you don’t – no worries, brown paper bags are available at no charge to customers.)

DO

give feedback after you sample a new product.

Brands that have demo stations set up in stores are typically looking for feedback on new products they’ve launched. If there’s something you don’t like about the product, suppliers want to know! And of course, if you absolutely love the product, that feedback is also encouraged.

DO

ask a team member for a taste of a new product.

If you see a new variety of apples, grapes, or a new brand of nutritional bars you’re curious about, find a Team Member and ask for a sample. Similar to this Trader Joe’s little-known fact, Whole Foods Market has a “try before you buy” policy on almost any item in the store.

DO

read the ingredients labels before sampling a new product.

If you’re highly sensitive to certain food allergies, always read the ingredients label before sampling. Even brands that are recognized as typically nut-free or gluten-free may experiment with new products, so don’t assume and check first. 

DON’T

grab a sample with your hands.

If you’re approaching a self-serve sampling case, always use the appropriate serving utensil nearby. It’s not only more sanitary but common courtesy.

DON’T

bring your pets into the store unless they are a service animal.

Their food safety policy allows service animals only, but many stores have spots where you can “park” your pup outside near water bowls.

DON’T

forget your debit or credit card.

Whole Foods Market doesn’t accept checks so be sure you have your wallet (and even better – your Amazon Prime card for 5% back on Whole Foods Market purchases!)

DON’T

eat food priced by weight while you’re shopping.

Handing your cashier a half-eaten bin from the salad bar or a sticker from produce sold by the pound is not an accurate way to determine the price. However, feel free to hand them an empty energy bar wrapper or bottle of kombucha – they have barcodes and can be scanned and paid for after they’ve been eaten.

DON’T

leave your cart in an empty parking space.

While it might take extra time to roll your cart to the good old cart corral, you could prevent a rogue cart from picking up speed and hitting another parked car by doing so!

This story was originally published on May 26, 2017, it has been updated with new information.

Get more inside scoop from Whole Foods Market: 

The Best Whole Foods Dips for a Colorful Summer Picnic
13 Whole Foods Secrets No One Will Tell You
How to Shop at Whole Foods

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