Thinking Citizen Blog — John Mackey — Founder of Whole Foods, Vegan, and Evangelist of Capitalism

Thinking Citizen Blog — Tuesday is Economics, Finance, and Business Day

Today’s topic — John Mackey — founder of Whole Foods, vegan, and evangelist of capitalism

The founders of corporations small, medium, and large tend to be eccentric in more ways than one. And behind every company, there are inspiring founding myths. Today a few notes on John Mackey, the college drop-out who co-founded Whole Foods with $45,000 and sold it to Amazon for $16 billion. Do you know the story behind your favorite store or product? If so, please share. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

ANOTHER COLLEGE DROP-OUT STORY — showering in a dishwasher

1.) “In 1978, twenty-five-year-old college dropout John Mackey and twenty-one-year-old Renee Lawson (Hardy), borrowed $45,000 from family and friends to open the doors of small natural foods store called SaferWay in Austin, Texas.”

2. “When the couple got booted out of their apartment for storing food products there, they decided to simply live at the store.”’

3. “Since it was zoned commercial, there was no shower stall. Instead, they bathed in the Hobart dishwasher, which had an attached water hose.”

NB: “Two years later, John and Renee partnered with Craig Weller and Mark Skiles to merge SaferWay with their Clarksville Natural Grocery, resulting in the opening of the original Whole Foods Market on September 20, 1980.”

THE FLOOD THAT ALMOST KILLED THE DREAM — “Stop moping and start mopping.”

1. “Less than a year later, on Memorial Day in 1981, the worst flood in 70 years devastated the city of Austin. Caught in the flood waters, the store’s inventory was wiped out and most of the equipment was damaged. The losses were approximately $400,000 and Whole Foods Market had no insurance.”

2. “Customers and neighbors voluntarily joined the staff to repair and clean up the damage. Creditors, vendors and investors all provided breathing room for the store to get back on its feet and it re-opened only 28 days after the flood.”

3. “As Mackey tells the story: “They said to us, in effect, ‘Come on, guys; let’s get to work. Let’s clean it up and get this place back on its feet. We’re not going to let this store die. Stop moping and start mopping.”


1. “I never took a single business class. I am convinced now that this gap in my formal education actually worked to my advantage in the business world.”

2. “Making high profits is the means to the end of fulfilling Whole Foods’ core business mission. We want to improve the health and well-being of everyone on the planet through higher-quality foods and better nutrition, and we can’t fulfill this mission unless we are highly profitable. Just as people cannot live without eating, so a business cannot live without profits. But most people don’t live to eat, and neither must businesses live just to make profits.”

3. “From an ethical standpoint, we need to change the narrative of capitalism, to show that it’s about creating shared value, not for the few but for everyone.”

NB: Mackey has a new book “Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity Through Business.”

John Mackey (businessman)

Whole Foods Market History

Opinion | Whole Foods Capitalism

John Mackey Quotes About Small Business | LogoMaker

36 Fantastic John Mackey Quotes

Click here for the last three years of posts arranged by theme:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive

YOUR TURN — Please share:

a.) the coolest thing you learned this week related to business, economics, finance.

b.) the coolest thing you learned in your life related to business, economics, finance.

c.) anything at all related to business, economics, finance.

d.) anything at all



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