LOS ANGELES — When asked what he wants customers to think of when they think of Mission Market, creator Roland Foss says that he hopes they perceive the brand as a "progressive" convenience store; an improvement over the more conventional stores in the convenience channel.
Mission Market, a convenience store concept from Progressive Convenience Inc., recently opened the chain’s third location in downtown Los Angeles, which is densely packed with offices, lofts and apartments, retail and nightlife. Situated at 544 S. Broadway St. in L.A.’s Theater District, the c-store is located in the historic Spring-Arcade Building, which also boasts a pedestrian arcade spanning the length of an entire block.
Opened in April and built over the bones of a defunct Famima c-store (the Japanese chain withdrew from the United States in October 2015), Foss drew aesthetic inspiration for Mission Market from the "merchandising perfection" of natural and organic grocer Whole Foods Market.
The urban concept is designed to draw customers from the bustling city into the 1,770-square-foot atmosphere, where they can find solace, value and convenience. Mission Market’s first two locations are in Fullerton (opened June 2013) and Anaheim, Calif. (opened December 2014).
"Downtown L.A. is rapidly growing and changing, and we’re so excited to be a part of retooling the retail infrastructure there," Foss, founder of Mission Market and president of Progressive Convenience, told Convenience Store News.
To set the tone of a "market," Foss chose dark brown and burgundy colors to make Mission Market inviting and approachable to busy downtown L.A. workers and inhabitants. Countertops and cabinets are stained dark, and the floors are made of faux wood.
"[I want] a customer to come away with the feeling that this is not a typical c-store," said Foss. "We also try to position ourselves around grab-and-go food, but with the promise of a market — think wide product selection. This is the ultimate in convenience: picking up a meal or snack along with the essentials and sundries you need to tide you over until the next grocery store visit."
According to Foss, successful c-stores appeal to all demographics and drive sustainable traffic through all dayparts. To accomplish this, Mission Market offers high-quality, prepackaged, grab-and-go food like salads, sandwiches, sushi, and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables.
Then, switching gears to more gourmet menu items, customers can find made-to-order salads, chicken wings, Belgian fries, fried Brussels sprouts, and hand-squeezed limeade from the store’s POV Snack Shop, a partnership with local artisanal pizza joint Pizza of Venice (POV).
In the coming months, Mission Market will transition its grab-and-go business to POV as well, with the local vendor producing and packaging most, if not all, of the c-store’s vendor-sourced grab-and-go products, Foss disclosed. Additionally, Pizza of Venice will begin selling its own pizza prepackaged in a take-and-bake format exclusively at Mission Market.
Foss also reports that Mission Market is in the process of finalizing a deal with an Asian fresh-food supplier to offer more than 20 SKUs of fresh, grab-and-go Asian foods like dumplings, sushi and salads.
"No other c-store in L.A. will be able to touch the selection Mission Market will have in the grab-and-go category," Foss insists.
Online ordering and delivery play a significant role in Mission Market’s business model, as well.
Delivery is a "tremendous" need-state, especially in the downtown L.A. market, according to Foss. That is why Mission Market offers delivery through partnerships with multiple third-party delivery apps: Postmates, Door Dash, GrubHub, and Eat 24. More than 1,500 of the store’s products are available for online ordering.
"Many of our competitors seem to neglect the in-store experience, content with having great locations. Instead, Mission Market aims to be a ‘one block more kind of store,’ where urban consumers will gladly walk past competitors, including drug and grocery stores, to shop here," Foss said. "We do that through attractive store design and layout, great employees, and relevant products that match the needs of our local consumers."
For more on Mission Market, look in the January issue of Convenience Store News.