Grocery Stores

In the past decade NYC began to look a bit like a large scale shopping mall. It is probably a combination of things starting with the desire for world domination from large brands such as Whole Foods, Home Depot and other large brick and mortar operations that we generally see as anchor tenants in strip malls. They had plenty of cash and if they didn’t do so well in NYC it didn’t matter because it was about building the brand.

What happened along the way is that the cost to keep these huge facilities full of people and merchandise is expensive. Second, that big grocery store mentality is not exactly how people shop in NYC. They shop for what they need and many buy prepared food not the makings for a meal.

Whole Foods recently rolled out (essentially) a bodega where you can grab and go with your basic needs. There are staples but there is plenty of pre-made food. It makes sense. Also makes you wonder about where is grocery going as Amazon owns Whole Foods and the largest e-commerce shipping model.

There have been plenty of data companies build on the back end of grocery over the past decade so companies can actually understand who their customer is in each store, what is flying off the shelves and what is sitting, what should be carried in depth and what should never be carried again and even ways to talk to your customer when they aren’t in the store.

Will grocery look completely different based on the neighborhood, the state, the city and location down to the item and right size in the future? Only time will tell.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    where is the whole foods bodega locatedwatching the patterns of shopping in the city cross a lifetime is if nothing else a journey.i remember living in a 5th floor walk up live/work illegal loft on lower broadway back when. shopping/delivery/everything was impossible.loved it then, love it now.

    1. Gotham Gal

      NYC is the best.It is in Chelsea. You can see the locations online.

    2. Sierra Choi

      I like the wine & beer bar at some of the Whole Foods branches. It’s probably the only reason to actually go out to shop at a grocery store rather than ordering everything online.

      1. awaldstein

        I won’t bogart Gotham Gals thread with my thoughts on both Amazon’s and Whole Foods positioning towards the wine–in this case the organic and natural wine world.They could do so much more.Wine needs to be sold not bought and for that requires a point of view and knowledge that they simply have not invested for. I wrote directly to Jeff after the acquisition, criticizing their efforts on both fronts. Never went anywhere but I believe at least on the retail front they could do so much more.

        1. Sierra Choi

          Sorry for the late reply! To my understanding I thought Amazon acquired Whole Foods as part of their plans to dominate the food sector with their Amazon Fresh service. Whole Foods is a valuable brand. I think it gives credibility to their Fresh Food Delivery by incorporating a well-known organic brand.

          1. awaldstein

            Hi…Not clear what you are saying here about wine specifically.Amazon is about Prime and they see WF as an extension, or so it appears.They have failed now to build a wine business through Amazon three times and as a department, WF as well has not been successful.Neither understand the wine consumer.Can they through Prime change this?Possibly but I have no real understanding of their intent nor honestly do I think they know exactly what to do with the brand they bought.They have the opportunity to bring huge value to the customer as well as significant environmental and health impact to the planet and the customer.I see them bringing me value almost every day at Amazon and WF, as a customer. I see little on the other fronts.

          2. Gotham Gal

            All true

  2. pointsnfigures

    with online delivery etc, grocery stores will become more like warehouses and distribution points inside cities. If you live in NYC, it’s awfully hard to get around from point to point. Lots of planning. If you are in LA, same, but different problem. Chicago is also getting very congested at certain times of the day so it’s impossible to traverse easily and quickly. Suburbs have different problem-usually traffic. And of course, the most important facet is your time. Time to go to the store, take the stuff home, unpack it-make it…The wealthier you are, the more valuable time is.

    1. awaldstein

      in NY the idea with density is to have everything in neighborhood of, food, restaurant, showmaker.part of that is being chipped away at-like drug stores with omnipresent delivery and food still need to be mandated as there are no big box wine shops aloud and not allowed in supermarkets.

      1. Gotham Gal

        the wine component should change and be able to put into stores with cheese and more

        1. awaldstein

          while i have followed the recent supreme court ruling on wine shipping, i really don’t understand the history or laws that keep it as it is in NY. bet it is convoluted.yes it should change of course as we want to shop for those things together. like in LA.the offshoot upside of course is that it has spawned by necessity literally a 100 or more small wine shops in the last decade neighborhood by neighborhood.

          1. Gotham Gal

            i don’t get it either.

          2. LE

            The last I checked (I don’t live there anymore) Pennsylvania did not have any privately owned liquor stores at all. All liquor (that is not consumed in a eating place) is sold in PA owned ‘State Stores’.Why? Part of the idea is to restrict consumption and not to encourage it. Same reason there are liquor licenses. Not every restaurant can offer liquor and charge for it. This is not just (taxi medallion style) in order to enrich existing license owners either. There is a valid purpose to not make alcohol freely available. Obviously different states feel differently about this issue.In NJ there are not only liquor stores but there is liquor in some Supermarkets. In PA I believe the State may operate liquor stores i Supermarkets iirc.When I was growing up and I used to go with my Dad to work we would sometimes travel through lower class areas of Philadelphia (this was before i95 was finished). I noted that there were bars on literally every street corner. Every street corner. There were no bars anywhere close to where we lived though. I also noticed that all the bars had these block style windows where you couldn’t see inside. I asked my Dad why. He said something like ‘well it’s to not create an inducement more than necessary for a heavy drinker to come inside’ (something like that iirc). That actually might not be the reason but it makes sense. It’s a trigger for an addiction to see others drinking no doubt. (I don’t even need any research to prove this either).Liquor needs to be restricted because not everyone has self control and is a casual drinker.

  3. LE

    I got the local whole foods to add fresh lox back to the seafood case. It disappeared and the department manager told me they wouldn’t have it until they found a new vendor and that it wasn’t at the distribution center anymore. The same week I was in another Whole Foods located 10 miles away. Not only did they have the lox but I talked to the manager there who confirmed they all get it from the same distribution center.I then called the store manger who admitted that it wasn’t selling well and that the Jewish clientele at the other store was enough to warrant having it out but not at the store that is closest to me.What did I tell him then? I said I come in a few time a week and I do so specifically for both the lox and the awesome multigrain wholewheat bagels. And I spend money on plenty of other things (you have no idea how much it’s ‘man in supermarket mode’). As if I had to tell him ‘just because an item doesn’t sell (or isn’t profitable) there is not some other reason to have it there’.Guess what? The lox is back in the display case. If something isn’t right open your mouth and say something (is what I always do and it works very well).(Attached: My awesome WF multi grain bagel with lox and capers…)… https://uploads.disquscdn.c

    1. JLM

      .That is a very strong bagel and lox. I love the capers though I am concerned about their distribution profile. They seem a little clumped up.Well played.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. LE

        They fall off. So I sometimes will put them under the lox to prevent that from happening. But it doesn’t create as nice a look. On this particular day I was out of capers so…I didn’t have enough either way.I am actually really creative with food design and presentation even when I am the only one seeing the food. [1]The attached seafood case picture is from the other day at WF. I complemented the seafood person. Pretty clear it made their day. I told him yes it did matter. (His boss overhead and then took credit for it I think..) Note the Parmesan lined up down the side of one channel.[1] This is my version of Job’s father ‘other side of the fence’ (did not read the book).

        1. JLM

          .I often buy WF smoked fish, shrimp, and tequila marinated smoked salmon nuggets.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  4. JLM

    .Whole Foods thinks they are crushing it in NYC. Their sales per SF are amongst the highest in the system.Grocery is coming into your refrigerator. In Austin By God Texas, I can get WF and Walmart to put my food in my refrigerator. A little creepy.I buy particular stuff that I only get via delivery like diet Stewart’s orange soda.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  5. Semil Shah

    I am an earl investor in Instacart and was surprised to see how it grew so fast. There are some interesting trends afoot. Annual grocery spend is huge, but also not growing relative to dine-in, take out, meal kit (like Sun Basket). Second, Good Eggs is still around and going quite well. If you have these combined — less grocery spend, more urbanization, less cooking at home with raw materials, it is already changing big time, and we haven’t even talked about lowering the final price of food products once retail food automation kicks in.

    1. Gotham Gal

      It is quite amazing. Some local, some national, and definite automation.

    2. Brittany lewis