The fresh-pressed, multi-year deal to open a brick-and-mortar Ruby Jean’s Juicery inside a high-traffic Whole Foods location puts Chris Goode in a position to scale his clean concept even further beyond Kansas City, he said.
“We’re in the healthy food space and Whole Foods has cornered that market pretty broadly. With its parent company now being Amazon, it creates a strong relationship for us,” said Goode, founder of Ruby Jean’s. “If there’s the potential to scale within Whole Foods, obviously we’ll need to be successful here first. But the sky’s the limit after that.”
The hotly-anticipated Ruby Jean’s location is expected to open Aug. 17 inside the Whole Foods at 51st and Brookside Blvd., he said, reflecting a full rebrand of the juicery’s space to fit the look and feel of existing Ruby Jean’s spots in the metro.
“It will be most like our downtown location — juices, smoothies, shakes and some of our lighter snacks,” Goode said. “It’s Whole Foods, so they already really have the food part covered.”
Ruby Jean’s will operate and staff the location, he added, noting a significant amount of trust placed in his team by Whole Foods.
“Whole Foods doesn’t do a lot of these kinds of partnerships,” Goode said. “A lot of times, there’s obviously products in stores where they collaborate with local makers, but for us to actually have a brick-and-mortar space — our operation inside of their operation — it’s pretty meaningful.”
Refined and reinvigorated
In the works since September, the fruition of the Whole Foods deal has forced Goode to up Ruby Jean’s game on the health food scene, he said.
“It’s been almost a year. That speaks to how thorough they are. Negotiation, contracts, design and all the little logistics that go into this have forced us to elevate,” Goode said.
The new store location also comes after ventures into other grocery stores and Westport’s entertainment district proved less successful than the downtown and Ruby Jean’s Kitchen and Juicery concepts, he acknowledged, noting impactful lessons along the way.
“We’ve learned a lot about demographics — our consumer and our audience. I’ve had to learn on the fly and take it on the chin a couple of times now to further understand where we should and should not be,” Goode said. “I’ve also come to better know our capacity as a company, where and when we’re going to be stretched; what we can reasonably absorb and handle in terms of sustainability and manpower. With this one, I’ve already learned more than all of the others put together because working with Whole Foods is literally an entirely different ballgame.”
Through the process of opening the Brookside space, Goode has interacted with as many as 50 people from within the tight-knit Whole Foods family, he said — contacts who have shown him the personality of the company.
“It feels truly like the perfect partnership for us. They speak our language. They believe in us. They saw something in us — and they saw something we could bring into their store that is unifying,” Goode said. “It’s exciting to be with partners who really want you. They found us. They reached out. And it’s pretty cool to be desired by the biggest natural grocer in America.”
Walking in with support
Goode is taking stock of more than raw ingredients in the runup to Aug. 17, he said. He’s trying to keep perspective on his journey since opening the first location in 2015.
“As we continue to grow our footprint, it’s surreal: ‘Ruby Jean’s is opening in Whole Foods!’ … I say it now and — maybe because I’ve been working on it for so long — I’m a little desensitized,” Goode said, laughing. “But then I step back and look at it, and I have to scratch my head, and be like ‘What?’”
“Getting here just reinforces all the long nights, the hard days, getting through the robbery, yada, yada, yada,” he added. “There’s always a purpose. There’s always a silver lining. And we’re getting ready to walk into a really special place.”
The founder credits Kansas City for helping push his startup to the next level.
‘I can have a dream and a vision, and I can execute those by myself on a very small level,” Goode said. “But to see it grow in the right direction — that only happens through support, through tangible people walking through the doors, sharing and telling their friends about it. Not just coming one time, but returning to spend their hard-earned money with us.”
His right-hand man and cousin, George Goode — a staple of the Troost location — also has been a key piece of the company’s ongoing growth, he said.
“He’s been a blessing to me and Ruby Jean’s. He’s invested of himself and really bought in to my dream,” Goode said. “Family is not always the right recipe in business, but we’ve been able to accomplish a lot together and I’m super proud of that. Seeing him grow into a great leader and businessman himself has been pretty special.”
“We don’t come from a lot, and to be walking into a deal like this … It’s just the starting line,” he added. “It’s just the beginning.”
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We have made history with this one!! The best part is that even though there’s one person in this picture it truly represents the love and support of an entire team & city. August 17th we will launch our newest location inside @wholefoods (Brookside) . Grateful to WFM for believing in us! “We make juice for a reason”™️ #kansascity #rubyjeansjuicery 📸 : @samstownusa