The Daily Parker

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Whole Foods responds

WFM Lincoln Park Store Team Leader Rich Howley responded to my complaint right away:

We are really sorry for the inconvenience in our garage this afternoon, we realized immediately that we were over-whelmed and brought in additional security, they unfortunately had not yet arrived.

They are doing exactly what you had suggested.

I walked the entire area around the store, and what exacerbated the situation was traffic on North Ave was bumper to bumper in both directions, and this gridlocked traffic trying to get from Kingsbury/Sheffield Sts onto North, which in turn backed up the traffic directly in front of the store, in clogged up people trying to get out of the lot.

We are terribly sorry that you got hung up in our garage.

My response:

Thank you for your prompt reply. I have to disagree with you about the timing, however. There was a traffic jam on North Avenue around 12:30, true; but I didn't leave the store until almost 1:15. By that time the traffic on Sheffield going north and Kingsbury south of the store had thinned out to a still-heavy but more-common level for holidays.

However, by 1:30, when I finally got out of the parking structure, there was no traffic on Kingsbury south of Blackhawk. Had your team directed third-floor exiting traffic out the southeast exit and then south on Kingsbury, cars would have fanned out along Blackhawk, Fremont, and Eastman, reducing pressure on the Sheffield/Weed/Kingsbury intersection. Anyone observing the situation at the southeast exit would have seen this; but your security team didn't have anyone standing there, didn't have anyone on the third floor, and didn't appear to have radios.

People might have been annoyed had they wanted to go north on Sheffield, but at least they'd be moving. And--more to the point--people would have *seen your guys keeping traffic moving*. Instead of 30-40 seconds per car getting onto Kingsbury, you could have gotten maybe 3-4 seconds per car, and cleared the upper deck within five minutes.

Ask any airline: keeping customers informed, and keeping up the appearance of trying to solve the problem (even if it's truly insoluble), makes people less likely to fire off notes to Customer Service--or worse.

Sorry if this seems like a rant; I'm trying to help. I've seen the store handle huge surges of traffic before, so today's failure was really surprising. I think you need to have a serious talk with your security team about it.

Kudos to Howley for responding so quickly. And he's mostly right. But someone on his security team screwed the pooch on this one, whether by not thinking or by not acting, and a lot of people were inconvenienced.

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