A New Smaller Format Store

The Lempert Report
November 30, 2022

Phil: So, Sally, when we take a look at one of the biggest trends that you and I have been talking about for a number of years, we're starting to see smaller stores, smaller supermarkets. Tell us about what Publix is doing with GreenWise. 

Sally: Well, Phil, they're not doing it in Tennessee, and I tell you I'm very disappointed in that. But they are in Florida. They have, in Florida and one in Birmingham, Alabama. These are eight alternative stores for pubs that are only 25,000 square feet. So it's a much smaller store. It's much more focused on organic. The health conscious shopper. They focus on what's called experience zones. So you can come to the store and you can taste wines while you shop or you can taste smoke sausages. They have different culinary experiences that they'll showcase in there. 

Phil: So they're really cool. Lemme just interrupt you for a second. So that's what Bob Mariano did in Chicago with Mariano's. Yes. He was one of the first retailers that you could grab a glass of wine and go shopping. And, you know, at the time it was this huge hit in Chicago and it actually created Mariano's being the big pickup dating place in Chicago. 

Sally: Yes, it sounds very similar to that. And I'm not sure why, what the strategy is for Publix, and maybe you have some thoughts on this, but even though these stores are really succeeding and they're showing that people are spending more time in a smaller format store than they are a larger format store, they are increasing their sales faster than the larger format stores. But for some reason, Publix doesn't have plans to really expand this format. 

Phil: I know. And it's so weird cuz Publix is not alone. So if I look at Hy-vee, they've got a bunch of different smaller formats. If I look at Schnooks, they've got smaller formats. If I look at other stores like Target, Meier, they've all tried it. And I am shocked, that it hasn't rolled out because when you do look at the numbers, you've got less overhead, you've got less employees that are out there, all that stuff. So it just makes sense. And for me personally, I don't know about you, but for me personally, I like a smaller store. And Placer AI found that in 2001, sorry, September, 2022, compared to September, 2021, the Green Wise stores in Florida had foot traffic rise by 6.4%. Now that's significant. And the monthly visits to the GreenWise locations in Florida up by double digits in June, July, and August. 

Phil: So it's clear to me that this is a format that needs to be really focused on and and tuned up because also what they can do is they can stretch out their footprint to wider geography. They don't have to get, you know, as big of a store. And in fact, if I look at Hy-Vee, Hy-Vee built a downtown Des Moines [store] right across from the courthouse. I visited there once, right when it opened, and it was fabulous. And they've turned that into a health market store because it's more urban, it's younger people, they want exactly what you describe the GreenWise is doing.