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The New York Times has a terrific story about the food retail innovations taking place at the local level. An excerpt:

“Customers, especially younger ones, want stores that offer what some industry analysts have come to call ‘food experiences,’ with craft beer on tap, meals to go and vegetable butchers. They tend to shop only when they cook, visiting more than one store to collect ingredients, rather than making a weekly trip to stock the pantry with toilet paper, chuck roast and gallons of milk.

“Large chains are throwing everything they can at the problem, planning smaller stores customized for different demographics. Kroger, which already sells clothes at some of its stores, has developed a grab-and-go fashion line called Dip, and is testing driverless delivery. The Midwestern chain Hy-Vee is adding medical clinics and spa-inspired bath boutiques to its stores.

“But some of the most radical reinvention is happening at the local level, in both cities and small towns, where a new breed of small community stores use the grocery aisles to fill cultural niches and address social needs.”

Among them are DMG Foods in Baltimore, designed to address a severe food desert problem in that community; Nada in Vancouver, British Columbia, described as “a package-free store” where “customers use reusable containers…to shop for groceries”; and Farmhouse Market in New Prague, Minnesota, which is run essentially without a staff, where members pay $99 and have a keycard that allows them to shop anytime they want, and vendors have a key so they can restock shelves at any time.

It is a fascinating story, and you can read it here.
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