DENVER — Imagine if there was a one-stop shop that combined the speed of a convenience store with the product selection of a grocery store. In this one store, you could tick off everything on your grocery list — from toothpaste to eggs to paper towels — before grabbing a freshly prepared meal for tomorrow’s dinner and sitting down to enjoy a hearty, healthy soup and sandwich for today’s lunch.
Consumers, however, don’t need to use their imagination anymore because this kind of store now exists with the opening of Choice Market. The Denver convenience-grocery store hybrid is the brainchild of founder and CEO Mike Fogarty, who says his influences date back to childhood.
Fogarty — who has worked as a procurement supply chain professional and, most recently, with DanoneWave where he assisted in projects targeted at c-stores — grew up outside of Philadelphia, with the regional favorite Wawa breaking the barriers of traditional c-stores with its foodservice-focused concept driven by customization.
Years later, Fogarty spent time in Europe, where he took notice of consumers’ shopping behaviors. European consumers shop small-format stores ranging in size from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet typically multiple times a week, spending less than 20 minutes in-store, and this “really appealed” to Fogarty, he recalled.
“I felt some hybrid of the two would be a good model given the way customers are changing in terms of grocery shopping,” he told Convenience Store News. “I started looking at the landscape out there, whether it’s convenience stores or grocery stores — because honestly, this is somewhere between the two — and there didn’t seem to be any good option. It seemed liked a really good opportunity to provide a kind of new style of c-store.”
Three years in the making, Choice Market opened on Oct. 13, 2017. The concept focuses on three key differentiators:
Fresh — Customers can get high-quality fresh food that’s prepared in-house.
Local — Choice supports local purveyors and is in the community actively looking for new ones, especially for key categories like milk, bread, coffee and cheese.
On-Demand — Open 24 hours a day, customers can order in-store at self-serve kiosks, or receive help from staff. Customers also have the ability to order online and have the items delivered within an hour for a flat rate of $3.99 via Postmates.
“Choice is a new kind of convenience store. The way we’ve positioned ourselves is that we’re providing the transaction time, product diversity and operating hours of a traditional convenience store, but marrying that to a product selection more along the lines of consumers’ growing preference for fresh, local and organic,” Fogarty explained.
“However you want to experience Choice is your decision, but we’ll provide multiple options to interact with the brand and get the products that you need,” the chief executive added.
Food preparation is a large element of Choice’s overall proposition, to showcase its homemade offers. That is why the 30-foot by 80-foot kitchen is seamlessly integrated with the point-of-sale, creating an “experience” for consumers by giving them the ability to watch their food being made while they continue shopping the store. Choice’s made-to-order menu spans sandwiches, flatbreads, bowls and breakfast burritos.
Grab-and-go makes up a large portion of the store’s business model as well, with the “sizeable” selection including side salads, small wraps and sandwiches, snack packs, and fresh fruit. The store offers local and seasonal products wherever possible.
With overall sales increasing each week and positive feedback from customers, Fogarty is in discussions for more Choice stores in the Denver area, as well as other locations around the United States, specifically in the Midwest, which he said is underserved in terms of concepts like Choice.
“If you want to grow at the pace we want to grow, you have to start thinking about locations, cities, and start moving forward to hit the growth trajectories that we want to,” Fogarty told CSNews.
Look in the January issue of Convenience Store News for more on Choice Market.