The shrinking grocery store

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Grocery stores are about to shrink, according to the New York Times.


The opening of smaller stores upends a long-running trend in the grocery business: building ever-larger stores in the belief that consumers want choice above all. While the largest traditional grocery stores tend to be about 85,000 square feet, some cavernous warehouse-style stores and supercenters are two or three times that size.

Statistics compiled by the Food Marketing Institute show that the average size of a grocery store dipped slightly in 2007 — to a median of 47,500 square feet — after 20 years of steady growth.

Next week, one of these smaller groceries opens in Plymouth, Mass., says the Boston Globe:


According to the Market’s managing director, Michael Szathmary, the Market is part of a larger trend that has taken hold across the country; the trend is a response to consumers who feel put off by “the impersonal nature of mega stores.”

Perhaps — if you’re old enough — you recognize what’s going on here: the ’50s, and a return to the “experience” of customer service.

What’s next? Will someone pump the gasoline for you at the gas station (after checking the oil, of course)? Movie theater popcorn that’s actually made in the theater (and not dumped out of a bag)?

  • bsimon

    “Perhaps — if you’re old enough — you recognize what’s going on here: the ’50s, and a return to the “experience” of customer service.”

    I would’ve guessed that people are looking for a store that’s closer to home & doesn’t require a gallon of gas to get there & back.

  • tony

    Get ready to pay even more for your food then.

    The smaller the store the higher the prices.

    Buy 3 bags of the same groceries at Jerry’s on 52nd and Vernon and then go to Cub at Knollwood and buy the same items, you’ll save 5-10$.

  • http://pwenzel.info pwenzel

    Agreed with bsimon above. After moving to south Minneapolis, there aren’t any good co-ops or quality grocery stores within walking distance. Those who live over by the Wedge, Seward Co-Op, or Mississippi Market have something special compared to much of the Twin Cities area. It makes me want to start my own neighborhood co-op to pick up the slack.

  • Bob Moffitt

    We have a great smaller grocery store near our house — Jensens, in Coon Rapids — that we just love. The bakery stuff is to die for. Best scones in town. I didn’t like scones until I had theirs.

    BTW: We DO pump the fuel at our biofuel promotions (one tommorow in Morris, MN), but its not gasoline. I used to manage a movie theater in Indianapolis. We DID pop the popcorn in the theater, then put it bags so we could fill the bin and serve people faster. It actually taste better and crisper after being bagged for a day or two. No kidding!

  • http://imagespetites.blogspot.com Kate

    Working at a smaller grocery store that thrives on providing good customer service, I know first hand that our profits per square foot are exponentially higher than Walmart, Supertarget and even Cub and Rainbow. Not to mention the energy saved by having lower ceilings, less coolers and less lights which also adds to much lower utility bills.

    I’m also fortunate to live fairly close to Sentyrz, which is definiltey a “blast from the past” compared to Rainbow… and is certainly more appealing than driving over to the Quarry. Not to mention they have the best brats on earth.

  • Mark S. Jungmann

    The Riverview movie theater in the Longfellow neighborhood is touted as a “21st Century Cinema in a 1950s Style Theater”. Not only is the popcorn popped on the premises they use REAL butter. I love going there on Saturday nights. The place is packed with polite people out to have a good time, the seats are new and comfortable and the ticket price of $3 can’t be beat.

    There is also a late 1940’s style market about 4 blocks from my home. When I first moved into my neighborhood I needed a container of milk one Sunday morning. I tried the market and it was a bad experience. The place was dark, dirty and had expired products on the shelves. I haven’t and wouldn’t shop there for years. I since learned that the market’s owners changed hands a few months ago. The place is well lit, clean and has useful products now. It’s a family run business and even if I spend 10-20 cents more, I’ll gladly pay it. It’s the difference between being penny wise and pound foolish.

    Mark S. Jungmann

    Minnesota Public Radio

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