Health Care Debate Sparks Whole Foods 'Buycott'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 1, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: It is a "buycott." Some angry people are calling for a boycott of Whole Foods because the CEO came out against President Obama's healthcare plan in an op-ed in the "Wall Street Journal." The CEO suggested a different plan.

But now people who support the Whole Foods CEO are fighting back against the boycotters of Whole Foods, calling for a buy-cott of the company. OK, what's a buycott?

Joining us live is Dana Loesch of the . Louis Tea Party Coalition. Lash or co-organizer of the Whole Foods buycott. OK, Dana, what's buy- cott?

DANA LOESCH, ST. LOUIS TEA PARTY COALITION: Greta, thanks for having me back again.

A buycott is the exact opposite of a boycott. We are not going to punish Whole Foods by withholding our dollars. In fact, we're going to go and support them because they have stood up for free-market principles.

So we got a bunch of people together. We went to Whole Foods and we drop some dollar bills, and we got some really good groceries.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, tell me, where was this Whole Foods that you went to and give an idea how many were there, what was said, what was the reaction.

LOESCH: The full foods that we went to today in particular was a Town & Country Whole Foods. There's a couple different locations here in . Louis. And today was just sort of the kick-start to what is going to be a rolling buy-cott across the country. I know Dallas Texas also had one. I think there was a city in Arizona but also had a buy-cott.

But before -- everything started at 6:00. And within the first 30 minutes we already had over 300 people. And the lines were packed, there were no more parts left at all. The lines at the registers were super long, and the Isles were cramped. It was fantastic.

In what I thought was really cool too was we had a bunch of people that were in there, and they were getting really good food, and they were also talking with each other about why they were there.

They had all read John Mackey's editorial in the "Wall Street Journal." They all thought that the points that he gave were fantastic, and they were absolutely flabbergasted as to why anybody would stand up and want to punish this guy simply because he just had a difference of opinion, because he had an alternative viewpoint.

And that is exactly what the president had asked for during his campaign. He was like, if you have different ideas, I want to hear them. Well, John Mackey gave a different idea, so why is he being punished?

And it was a lot of really good conversation going on, so it was a really cool experience.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did anyone say, "I have never been to a Whole Foods before. I am just here because I am supporting John Mackey," or were these sort of just regulars?

LOESCH: It was kind of like half and half. There were half of the group were people who had gone to Whole Foods before but didn't do so may be regularly. And then the other half were like we have never actually been here before, because we thought that it was really, maybe hippified, and they loved what Whole Foods that offer.

And they went there, and they were like, you know what, we are going to make it a habit to come here every week, or at least twice or three times a month, and really incorporate Whole Foods into our buying routine, because John Mackey went out on a limb for everybody and were going to support that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Were there any people outside the store boycotting the store?

LOESCH: There were. There was one guy in an Obama shirt. There was only one guy that was wearing an Obama T-shirt and that was it. I was kind of disappointed. I thought that there would be more people, because we had unions protesting the Whole Foods just last week.

And we thought that because of bad perhaps maybe there would be some people that would turn out to boycott our buy-cott, but nobody did. There was one lone guy, so I had to give him credit for showing up.

VAN SUSTEREN: I take it that you would like to see more. I assume that you didn't do this is a one-time deal, but you have some sort of strategy in mind -- or maybe this is a one-time deal. But in the event that you want to do this again or make it bigger, what's the plan?

LOESCH: We would like to see, we would like to see this happen nationwide. [St.] Louis today was just the start of all of it, and we know that there are a lot of other tea party groups in other cities that there's organizing right now to do the exact same thing and Dallas, Texas did today.

So we see that it's going to be a rolling buy-cott. And not just that, but it's not just going to be Whole Foods either. A lot of small business owners are now stepping up to the plate. John Mackey, we had Dave MacArthur of MacArthur's Bakery here. We had Tim Cerdike (ph) who is another small business owner here.

All of these guys are coming forward, and they are saying, you know what, we don't -- we support free market principles. We don't think that the government needs to micromanage everything.

And we see that. We want to support that. And it's not just what Whole Foods. It's with any small business owner that takes a stand for capitalism, basically, for free-market principles, for just having the government not micromanaging our lives. We will go out and support them for standing up and doing what's right.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dana, thank you.

LOESCH: Thanks so much, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, will any of this affect Whole Foods in the long run? Joining us live is Steve Moore, senior economics writer for "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page.

Steve, I'm like a light, I'm one p-ed off all these people a little bit. Like the problem I have with the bill on Capitol Hill health care, I just don't think you can understand her.

With John Mackey, who is the CEO of Whole Foods, it's not so much that he has a plan that's a different from the president. I'm just appalled that here's a guy who has been so good to his employees, and all he's saying is try my plan, and he has an idea, and there is a backlash against his expression.


VAN SUSTEREN: It's not like he is a pig of any sort.

MOORE: The way the story has evolved is really pretty incredible. Remember when the boycott was first announced when we first talked about this. The people at Whole Foods were very freaked out about it. They were very defensive, and they said John Mackey, those are his personal opinions, not the companies, and so on.

What is happened in the last week or two is that -- a couple things. One is that the boycott has fizzled. There is no evidence that this has hurt the company. If you look at the stock price, it's been pretty local. It hasn't hurt the stock. If you look at the company's sales, they're not down. And in fact, as you just heard, and a lot of stores the sales are up.

And so there is no evidence right now that this is hurt the company. In fact I got an e-mail that was sent to a friend of mine -- I know John Mackey a little bit, and John basically said, you know what, this was actually turned out to be good publicity for company, and in fact were doing better than ever now.

VAN SUSTEREN: The peculiar thing about it -- out of all the people who come up with ideas for health care reform, and I don't know whose idea is a great one, he is the one who actually put his money where his mouth is, or put his mouth where his money is, whatever the expression, because he has actually run a business.

He hasn't been sitting on Capitol Hill just sort of thinking about it and thinking about what to do. It's almost like the ER doctor. Here's a guy who has run a business and said here's how to do it.

And I don't know if it's a good idea or not, but we should at least listen to it.

MOORE: The truth is, if you look at John Mackey as an employer, I mean this guy is a good corporate citizen. He pays his workers higher than the union workers receive. He provides excellent medical benefits for his workers. You would think this is exactly what...

VAN SUSTEREN: He does not take a salary. He said I'd made enough money, so he doesn't take one since 2007.

MOORE: So here's the amazing part of the story. The unions would be embracing somebody like this. He pays higher wages, he pays the benefits, he treats his workers well. And yet the unions now have actually, a couple of the unions now have joined this boycott against them because they don't like some of his ideas.

But why not impress his ideas? He is actually found a way to reduce health-care costs and cover his workers.

VAN SUSTEREN: But even if he had a dumb idea, here is a guy who is really trying, who is a good business person. I mean, he is sort of, from what I can see so far, and I haven't done an exhaustive study of his business, but here's a guy who actually is trying to do the right thing, and he gets punched right in the nose because he has a different idea and doesn't agree with the wisdom or lack thereof for someone else.

MOORE: Well, he has the practical experience of, as you said, running a company. He is a major employer of thousands of workers. He has done all the right things.

In the fact that the left has this kind of visceral hatred of anyone who speaks out with any alternative ideas to the public option...

VAN SUSTEREN: He is a lefty, though. That's the other thing, he is a lefty.

MOORE: I have debated John Mackey. He is a friend, but he and I hardly agree on a lot of things. In fact he thinks CEOs are paid too high and so on.

But the point is that this is the guy who has done the right thing, and now people are becoming unhinged because he has alternative ideas...

VAN SUSTEREN: This is not a complainer. This is a guy who says try this. Here's my idea. But anyway...

MOORE: The good news is his company is doing fine. And I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see any of these buy-cotters outnumbering boycotters so this turns out to be a net asset for the company. And that's what happens when you write a piece for the "Wall Street Journal."


VAN SUSTEREN: There is a plug for the "Wall Street Journal." She pay part of my salary to because you are in our corporate family now. Anyway, Steve, thank you.

MOORE: See you.

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