If you shop at this Whole Foods then no doubt you've had walk through the Guilt Zone outside.
You know the Guilt Zone. It's that area 20 feet in circumference around the man in the white uniform with the charity bucket soliciting your donation. He looks like a nice fellow, but he is ALWAYS there, at all hours, and he stands about 8 paces away from the main entrance. You cannot avoid him if you want to enter this store and he always speaks to you and goes for eye contact.
Why does Whole Foods allow this? I give to my various charities, ones that I've vetted to ensure my money is actually going to real programs. So, I don't wanna have to walk through the Guilt Zone and face this man every time I freakin' walk into Whole Foods.
A word with the store manager, Ruben, garnered me some prime info: the charity man is allowed to be there. He has a permit. But here's some troubling information Ruben also admitted: Whole Foods can tell ALL solicitors to vanish, if they chose to. But Ruben has decided to sell out his customers for a little bit of personal gain rather than spare them the shame and embarrassment of having to walk through the Guilt Zone each time they visit.
How? You see, the city of Thousand Oaks has told Ruben that in order to make the man in a white uniform go away, his Whole Foods would not be allowed ANY solicitors. He cannot cherry pick who is allowed to be there. It's all or nothing. So Ruben must decide: shall I banish all solicitors?
This is where his judgment has lapsed. You see, Ruben has a daughter in the Girl Scouts and come cookie season, Ruben's daugher will be in front of the Whole Foods store selling her cookies. I'm sure she makes bank. If Ruben has to tell the man in the white uniform to go away, he must also tell his daughter she cannot sell her cookies in front of the store and he told me he won't do that. He believes the Girls Scouts are worthwhile.
I myself was a Brownie and Girl Scout in my youth, I'm no Scrooge. However, I don't want to be approached by solicitors each and every time I enter this store. So if we can't cherry pick, then I prefer that Whole Foods tells them all to scram.
In this case, however, despite numerous customer complaints (which Ruben admitted to me) Ruben has opted to choose his daughter's cookie enterprise over his own customer's comfort and peace of mind. If he has to tell the man in the white uniform to go, it'll also adversely affect his daughters cookie sales and that's not a sacrifice Ruben is willing to make. Customers be damned.
I'm not sure if Whole Foods Corporate is aware of Ruben's decision to put his daughter's interests over all of his customers. But at least now you know. And next time you walk through the Guilt Zone past that dude in a white uniform asking you for money when you enter the store, you have Ruben, the store manager to thank.
Pros: biggest health food place in Conejo Valley
Cons: Dude out front, soliciting donations, 24/7