business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

During a recent trip to Philadelphia, I had a chance to visit the new Heirloom Market opened earlier this year by Ahold Delhaize-owned Giant … a new, 9500 square foot urban format that I think speaks well of the company’s willingness to try something new.

You can see some of the pics I took below … the store is located on the street level of Bloc 23, luxury condominiums in a charming and fast-gentrifying neighborhood just blocks from downtown, sitting in the shadow of the One Liberty Place skyscraper.

The store itself is cleanly, efficiently laid out - not much in the way of service, but with an impressive product department that it clearly hopes will set it apart from other local markets, or from the Wawa convenience store just blocks away. The store seems to have an edited grocery selection, but there are strong wine and cheese sections, reflective of the store’s sense of how urbanites shop and live.

Via the company’s Peapod e-commerce business, shoppers are able to shop online and have products delivered; ironically, less than a block away there is a large Amazon pickup and return depot, so there is a constant reminder of where the world is headed. (There’s also an Unleashed by Petco store nearby, which is a more service-oriented, high end pet store designed to appeal to urban pet owners with disposable income.)

The ability of companies that long have focused on suburban locations to adapt their visions to smaller, more urban footprints will, I think, tell us a lot about whether these retailers will be able to succeed or fail; I also suspect that the folks at Giant spent some time visiting urban stores operated by Ahold Delhaize in Europe … the Philly store as a vaguely European feel to it, I think.

The verdict probably still is out on the degree to which Heirloom Market has been successful, but it is likely that this is just the first in a series of experiments in which the company will indulge.

These days, it really has no choice.

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