Reviving the Corner Store

The Lempert Report
March 23, 2015

Urban foodies and their micro-grocers

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal talks about the revival of the corner store, but not the corner store we once knew. Thee small neighborhood grocery stores, or micro-grocers, are staking a claim to the urban foodie customer by catering to more niche requests. 

These upscale corner stores,  are almost like a combination of a farmers-market stores or a specialty grocer, with the Wall Street Journal noting that many emphasize whole-animal butchery and small bins of local produce.

Take for example, Plenty Grocery & Deli, a small grocery store in Chicago where customers can request smaller, more obscure brands or products.  Or Foragers City Grocer in Brooklyn, NY, that aims to be “first to market” with products such as Tarentaise cheese from Vermont and bread from Berkshire Mountain Bakery in Massachusetts. The emphases being on local products and boutique brands. And Foragers is as much about the store layout, as what's being sold. Small islands of products, soft lighting and specialty counters all designed to engage the customer.

As these kind of neighborhood, micro grocers grow in popularity, perhaps larger supermarkets can learn something. What these stores do well is create a sense of community and support for local, boutique companies. And in addition, create an experience for the customer, a space that's pleasant to walk around and explore.  While supermarkets need to cover a wider base, there is still room to appeal to the urban foodie, with an area of the store dedicated to local produce and products and displays and designs that create an experience and get shoppers excited about what they can buy.