Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Retail Memo: Whole Foods Market, Inc. Coins a New Retail Format Term, 'Groceraunt,' for Its New Scottsdale, Arizona Store

Remember, you read it here first...

Austin, Texas-based Supernatural grocer Whole Foods Market, Inc. has coined and introduced a new term into the food retailing lexicon to describe its new, 50,000 square foot lifestyle-oriented grocery store in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Whole Foods' company executives are calling the store a "groceraunt," because it not only offers a wide variety of prepared foods' options--along with tons of fresh foods and natural and organic grocery products--but also has numerous and varied in-store dining or restaurant venues in it. This eclectic mix of foods, beverages and much more, which shoppers can take home to eat or cook, or enjoy by dining in the store, equals a Whole Foods' "groceraunt", rather than a mere grocery store or supermarket.

The new store (oops, "groceraunt") opens tomorrow morning in Scottsdale. (It's located at 7111 E. Mayo Blvd.) Among the store's eclectic mix of prepared foods and in-store dining options which earn it the "groceraunt" title are:

>An in-store wine and tapas bar which features an extensive selection of wines from throughout the world, along with cheeses, Charcuterie, olives, peppers, nuts and more. Tapas is the "small plate" style of eating which originated in Spain.

>The Smokehouse Grill, which offers chicken, beef, pork and other meats and vegetables grilled to order. The Smokehouse Grill, which is an in-store sit-down restaurant, also offers wines by the glass, seasonal draft beers and other beverages.

>An Asian foods dining bar, which features made-to-order sushi and other Japanese foods, Chinese, Korean, Thai and other Asian dishes. Customers can eat at the attractive dining bar, which has plenty of seating, or get their items to go.

>A hot specialty sandwich shop, where customers can get a wide-variety of prepared-to-order, handmade, hot sandwiches to either eat in-store or take home.

>An Indian foods bar, which offers a selection of hot and cold prepared foods from India.

>The Pasta Bar, which offers customers dozens of varieties of hot, fresh-prepared or cold pasta dishes.

>An in-store homemade soup and fresh-made stew station, which features a number of fresh soup and stew offerings daily.

>The Organic Salad Bar, which offers nearly everything (and all organically-grown), and then some, a person could think about putting into a salad.

>There's the Brick-Oven Pizza Center, where chefs make specialty pizzas in a wood-burning brick oven for shoppers. The center has a dining area where customers can eat their pizza's or they can order the gourmet pies to go.

>A rotisserie chicken station and meat carving station. Shoppers can get rotisserie-roasted chickens and all kinds of roasted meats at the station, where carvers will slice the chosen items to a customers specifications.

>Additionally, the new "groceraunt" has 30 feet of self-serve prepared hot and cold foods offerings, along with salad, olive & pepper, and nut bars.

If that's not enough of a variety of eat-in-the-store or to go prepared foods options, the "groceraunt's" store departments--produce, bakery, meat & seafood--also have their very own eat-in or to go prepared foods venues.

There's the "Veggie Grill" in the produce department, where a chef will grill-to-order shoppers' fresh produce choices. In the huge in-store bakery, there's a Gelato bar, along with a tapioca and rice pudding bar. There's also a cafe that serves scores of treats as well as dozens of fresh-brewed coffee drinks.

The "groceraunt's" meat and seafood departments feature, along with what seems like a mile of fresh meat and seafood cases, a catch-full of prepared foods offerings. There's a fish and seafood smoker right in the department, where shoppers can have their fish and seafood selections smoked by a store specialist. The meat department also has an extensive selection of meats--steaks, roasts, poultry and even exotics--that are marinated and otherwise ready for a customer to merely take home and cook as instructed. The department features organic, grass-fed, sustainably-grown and local meats, along with dry-aged beef, including prime varieties.

And, of course, the grocery and non-foods' portions (the grocery in "groceraunt") are super-extensive per Whole Foods' "new generation" and "lifestyle-oriented" retailing format.

The new store's (oops, "groceraunt's") shelves are packed with every imaginable brand of natural, organic, specialty, ethnic, gourmet and artisanal packaged food and grocery items, including lots of the retailer's own store brand goods. There's also a strong offering of locally-produced grocery products, as well as perishable, fresh produce and other local foods.

The "groceraunt's" Whole Body department features over 20,000 natural and organic health, body and beauty care items; eco-chic clothing, books, DVD's, music, candles, vitamins, dietary supplements, herbs and homeopathic remedies. It's an in-store version of a big, stand-alone health and wellness store.

The 50,000 square foot "groceraunt" also features an in-store organic gardening center. It features a full-scale floral shop, along with an extensive selection of plants, annuals, bulbs and garden supplies. It's designed not only to appeal to shoppers who have a "green thumb" but specializes in those gardeners' who's green thumbs also are organically-inclined.

Speaking of "green," the store is certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) organization, a national group which rates and then certifies commercial buildings for environmental-friendliness.

When a shopper walks into the new "groceraunt" they see a huge, wide-screen LCD TV, which televises an in-store chef giving cooking lessons or grilling mouthwatering looking meats and vegetables at the in-store grill.

Although Whole Foods Market has recently built much larger stores then the 50,000 square foot Scottsdale "groceraunt," (such as its two recent 70,000-plus square-foot stores, one in Northern and the other in Southern California) the new Arizona marketplace packs in the retailer's traditional grocery and non-foods offerings, along with its traditional--and a number of new--prepared foods venues.
The combined food and grocery emporium and multi-cuisine restaurant should be a big hit in Scottsdale, which is an affluent and rapidly growing city of over 200,000 people located just a few miles from mega-city Phoenix. Scottsdale is know for its numerous, high-quality and innovative restaurants, and has a large "foodie" population.
The city and surrounding region also are major tourist attractions. Scottsdale is a popular year-round tourist hot spot do to its warm winters and sunny, hot spring and summer seasons. The region has numerous top-quality golf courses, lots of health spa's, and Scottsdale is filled with dozens of popular antique shops and scores of high-end boutiques and gift shops. Whole Foods Market should fit right in, primarily for the residents, but also for the tens of thousands of tourists who visit the area weekly.

Whole Foods will have 271 stores in the U.S. when the new Scottsdale "groceraunt" opens tomorrow. It will be the retailer's sixth store in Arizona. Other Whole Foods' markets are located in Tucson (2 stores), Tempe, Paradise Valley and Chandler.

The Supernatural grocer has plans to open a number of other, new stores in Arizona in the next couple years. In fact, Michael Besacon, president of the Southern Pacific Region for Whole Foods, who is in town for tomorrow's grand opening, also is meeting with local developers to discuss acquiring new store locations, according to Lynn Ducey, a reporter for the Phoenix Business Journal.

The natural and organic grocer is currently building a new 53,000 square foot "lifestyle-oriented" store in Tempe. It will replace the older, existing Tempe Whole Foods' store, which will be closed when the new bigger and better market opens later this year.

Regarding Whole Foods' coining of the term "groceraunt," beginning with the new Scottsdale store which will open tomorrow--but also likely to be used for many other stores that fit this hybrid supernatural grocery store/restaurant format--we think the term has legs. It's really one of the first new terms which describes the types of stores--lots of food service options along with grocery products--that Whole Foods and many other grocery retailers are building today. We have been calling Whole Foods' new stores, "lifestyle-oriented food emporiums" and "new generation stores" as two ways to describe their unique characteristics.

We will now add "groceraunt" to these two terms which we coined. Each of the three terms or phrases describes an aspect of what these new stores are. We like all three--and will use each of them--in our future discussions of Whole Foods' and its ongoing quest to redefine food retailing and create a dynamic, ever-evolving format.

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