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During growing season in her town of East Nottingham Township, Pa., the 35-year-old stay-at-home mom walks down the street to her Amish neighbors’ farm to buy fresh eggs and pesticide-free strawberries, vegetables, and herbs.
She skips the supermarkets near her home to purchase the “perfect” organic oranges and lemons that she says she can get only at Wegmans, a 30-minute drive away.
Witness the disappearance of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, otherwise known as A&P, which folded in 2015 after 156 years.
“Just as the middle class is shrinking, the middle class of grocery stores is being challenged,” says Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), a grocery industry group.
“Today the choices are extraordinary,” says Laurie Demeritt, the company’s chief executive officer.But stores that offer an alluring sensory experience while grocery shopping—the scent of cinnamon-apple pies from the bakery oven, the sight of plump purple and ivory eggplants in a rustic wooden case—bring us back.Attention to these details might explain Wegmans’ popularity.Rather than taking a one-store-fits-all approach, some grocers are hypertargeting a single customer type and scaling back in size as a result.Those new locations offer a more “curated” grocery shopping experience—say, selling just a few choices of organic olive oil instead of many—saving shoppers the work of distinguishing among brands. The smaller-format stores feature primarily Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value products.