The Grocery Store Of The Future Might Not Have Toilet Paper
The future of the grocery business might just be on display this summer in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. And it's a very different vision than pulling into a grocery pick up spot at your Sedalia or Warrensburg Walmart store.
I've always been intrigued by the grocery, retail, restaurant and hospitality businesses. Malls, movie theaters, grocery stores, hotels, restaurants, fast food joints. New ones, old ones, defunct ones. If there's a story on it, I'll read it.
So when successful grocery store executive Bob Mariano talked about the grocery store of the future in an article in the Chicago Tribune promoting his new grocery store in a Chicago neighborhood, Dom's Kitchen & Market, I got interested.
Mariano told the Tribune that he believes the future of the grocery store isn't the huge stores where you can find everything under the sun. He believes many of the things we get at the store will eventually be ordered on line and delivered to us.
The store of the future, according to Mariano, will be less about toilet paper, paper plates, boxed shelf stable foods and much more about perishable foods, ready to prepare meal kits to go, prepared fresh to go meals, fruits, vegetables, and a curated wine, beer and spirits section.
In other words, it's about fresh items you'll use in the next day or two. Not that five pack of Macaroni and Cheese, or the plastic tub of coffee that can be sent in the mail or delivered by a service. It's also about creating a place you may pop in for lunch or dinner. Or to grab a gourmet coffee. It's about creating a place you'll pop into a few times a week to get what you need for meals, or to pick up or enjoy a meal.
It's not an entirely new concept. In Warrensburg I can drop into the Bi-Lo Country Mart and pick up a fried chicken dinner complete with two sides. Or I can have them make me a deli sandwich to go along with some potato salad or coleslaw. I suspect you can get similar items at Wood's. When I lived in Lubbock there was one grocery store chain where you could hit a salad bar, get prepared pastas, prepared sandwiches, prepared pizza, prepared chicken and more. Mariano's even employed the concept in the store brands he's run, notably Dominick's and his namesake chain Mariano's.
I'm intrigued by the concept. I like the idea of a small store on Limit Avenue, Maguire Street, or somewhere along Highway 50 where I can pull in and easily pick up a prepared dinner. Or maybe fresh bread to go with some pasta. Or maybe some thin cut steaks for steak sandwiches. I'm not so sure I'll like the prices though, it sounds expensive.
And while Mariano may be seeing that more of us are buying more of our groceries online and having them delivered. It certainly doesn't seem like that's the case when I find myself at the Warrensburg Walmart. It's also my experience. We embraced online pick up for both groceries and other things years ago.
Delivered groceries, not so much. There either seems to be a cost. Or it's not offered in our area. And it's just not something we do... yet. However, if stores like Walmart continue to push into delivery it could be the norm for a lot of things we keep in our cupboards and pantries.
That said, I don't buy the fact that the grocery store of the future won't have toilet paper. They might not offer every brand under the sun, or the mega roll 40 pack. But TP is one of those things, when you need it, you need it. So I expect you'll at least be able to pick up a four pack in the grocery store of the future.
What do you think the grocery store of the future will be like? Do you order any of your groceries on line now? Let me know.