Grocery shopping as an experience

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My bag from Main & Vine’s opening day, 2016.

Grocery shopping is a personal thing. Grocery marketers would like to think they give you an experience.

We all know why we go to specific stores. There are intangibles beyond prices and convenience that draw people in. Costco and Sam’s Club has the warehouse-bulk niche. Trader Joe’s has the specialty items. Whole Foods makes you feel like even that Mac and Cheese box you bought at its store is healthy (though maybe not). Then there is just I-need-to-get-everything-on-my-list shopping, which Walmart, Kroger and Safeway are happy to help you with.

(I’d add Target, but my experience is that while they do have food, the selection is not supercenter level, though maybe yours is).

And, pretty much every city has its own independent grocers, either food co-ops or a small, regional chain no one else in the country has heard of. They may be a bit pricier than the competition but DO NOT get in their fans’ way of shopping. They love the stores and will always go to them.

If you don’t like bumping up against people in the throes of big-list shopping, you could always go online, depending on availability of what you want and synching your schedule with delivery.

Lidl seems niche with six aisles at 20,000 square feet. My recent look (here’s the link to read it) at the store can give you a pretty good idea of what the chain is like. They are new to America, so the stores are clean, newly constructed, and have the curiosity of their own brands, which I can see people who shop Trader Joe’s might find appealing. Needless to say, they are not in this part of the country (Pacific Northwest), yet. I can assure you the stores back East haven’t gone unnoticed by the likes of Kroger and Amazon. And Trader Joe’s.

Kroger launched Main & Vine as a new concept store last year in Gig Harbor, Wa. Think Kroger doing Whole Foods. That’s what it feels like. And, it’s less than a mile from Fred Meyer, Kroger’s other store in the area.

Kroger is building a new Fred Meyer even closer, to replace the old one.

You soon see that the idea of “grocery experience” vs. “going to the store” is a real thing these days, even with stores competing practically across the street from each other. They know you don’t always go shopping for everything, and when it’s a few items, you have a certain store you prefer.

At least that’s the working theory.

It’s a bid to stop online retail from taking over everything.

Maybe Lidl will be in your town sooner than later. For now, expansion outside of already announced sites is unknown, just like how to pronounce the chain itself. Leed-all? Litt-al? Ly-dul? No one seems to agree. I did find online UK vs. German pronunciation guides. As usual, the customers will decide, I suppose.

I’d be curious to hear from anyone who currently shops at one of the new Lidl stores. Comment below, or email debbie.cockrell@thenewstribune.com

And you can read my previous grocery coverage by following the links here.

 

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