A couple of thoughts on the Whole Foods located just blocks from my house in downtown Silver Spring. In my area along with Whole Foods we also have a Safeway and Giant grocery store, which unlike Whole Foods have self check outs. I love this since I'm Safeway about 3 times a week. The Safeway self checkout seems to work better (although I don't go to Giant much), because there is 1 line for the 4 self check out kiosks, while at Giant there is one line for each kiosks, except for one line that is for the two under 10 item kiosk. Whole Foods, does not have a self checkout though in Silver Spring, but it does in other places.
So I why might Whole foods not have self check out, first Whole Foods shoppers buy a lot more non bar-coded items so ringing up your own groceries is harder. Second, Whole foods items on average cost more, so miss scanning items cost more.
Another thing surprised me about my trip to Whole Foods this weekend. They have one of the cheaper cups of coffee around town (I think $1.30) for a similar small at Starbucks it's $1.50 and $1.55 at Panera. I think Borders is even more. You could argue quality, but I don't think there is much difference. So perhaps cheap coffee (is a loss leader) or coffee gets you to buy more (I'm on to you Trader Joes with your small cup of coffee).
I'm now off to Carribou Coffe, which has $1 medium coffees on Mondays (which makes it more cheaper than the small), could it be they are trying to get me hooked, normally deals are found when demand is lower (lunch specials, matinées), but I'm guessing Monday is not the low point for coffee demand.
I wish I was going to Highland Origin, but they temporarily closed my favorite coffee shop so they could add an Ethopian restaurant to it, words you don't hear many places in the country.