Whole Foods bumped their heads by opening up their location in Mandarin, if they were closer to riverside, (which the thriving whole foods in Atlanta is in a similar area) they were be good to go.
Whole Foods misjudged their market. Rednecks with money aren't your normal predictable consumer demographic.
The upper middle class people in Mandarin, Northern St. Johns, Fruit Cove, Julington Creek, Fleming Island, etc are by and large transplants and aren't rednecks at all.
Oh, I lived in Mandarin when I very first got to town, before I fled to Riverside, and I seriously beg to differ...
When and how long did you live in Mandarin? The upper middle class in Julington Creek Plantation, Deercreek, Olde Mandarin, and many of the other middle-middle and upper middle class neighborhoods in that area are not redneck at all. There are definitely rednecks in Mandarin and northern St. Johns County, but by and large they aren't the people that had the income Whole Foods was looking for.
I didn't live there that long, less than a year. I used to work at a real estate brokerage off Hartley, that's what originally brought me over there. I thought the whole place was awful, with the sole exception of the waterfront houses. Everything else, and I literally mean everything, is some awful strip mall. The demographic there isn't whole foods' type. I know people love Mandarin, and I am hardly disagreeing with you that there are people there with a lot of money, but that doesn't mean they're not rednecks. Speaking hypothetically, a redneck billionaire is still exponentially less likely to shop at WholeFoods than a yuppie city-dweller, it's just their demographic.
FWIW, full disclaimer, I don't shop at WholeFoods. Just my observations from the people I've seen in there the few times I went, and what I noticed about Mandarin when I lived there. You are obviously free to disagree, but the fact that this location is under-performing despite the positive economic makeup of that area does kind of bear me out. Not disagreeing that some of the richest people in the city live in Mandarin. They're just not the types to be shopping at Whole Foods.
If you go back in the thread a year ago, you'll see that I said that "Plain Jane" from JCP is less likely to shop at Whole Foods than Hipster Jill from Riverside. There is no doubt that Whole Foods would perform much better in closer proximity to the core where you are more likely to find more cultured people and foodies.
That said the Mandarin area isn't really that redneck, especially those with some money. I am in full agreement Mandarin is boring, that it is full of strip malls, generally a very mediocre place, but the demographic that Whole Foods was aiming at is not redneck. I grew up there, went to parties there, went to churches there, played sports with people there, went to high school there etc. You'll find more Jewish people in Mandarin than any other part of Jacksonville. Many of the successful Palestinian, Jordanian, and Lebanese immigrants and their offspring live there. Many of the students at Bolles, Stanton, and Kenny live there. And like I said, many of the well off residents are transplants or non-native Jacksonvillians. Its not a redneck area, at all. I grew up with friends from all over that area and know it quite well.
If Whole Foods is performing poorly there, it is because many of the residents that live there have families. A housewife with 3 kids is less likely to prepare a gourmet meal for her family than a DINK in the city. A boring housewife in the burbs is less likely to be a foodie than a cultured city dweller who has traveled extensively. Then factor in that a large amount of Jacksonville's gay population doesn't live near there and you can see how they got fooled by sheer income numbers when deciding where to locate.
I think you'd also be surprised at how many Mandarin area residents want to move back to the city or already have. Many current residents of San Marco, Riverside, etc are former Mandarin/Northern St. John's County residents and many more would be if they could sell their homes.