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Specialty Food Stores Look at Prepared Foods, Service

Specialty food stores are seeing a decreased importance in grocery products and more interest from consumers in prepared foods, ambiance and services. As more traditional retailers sell natural and organic products, specialty grocers are looking for new ways to set themselves apart, reported Supermarket News (April 11).

The Independent Natural Food Retailers Association notes adding perks to a store, like free Wi-Fi, grab-and-go foods or specialty products, make it more appealing to shoppers. The consumer expectation is that you should do more at the neighborhood grocery store than just shop for groceries.

In response, stores are now offering perks like community rooms, cafes, massages and supplements. Alameda Natural Grocery in Alameda, CA, sells honey harvested from bees housed on its roof.

Cherry’s Natural Foods in Cape May Court House, NJ, transitioned into a café format and currently offers a boutique selection of supplements and groceries. Cherry’s sells breakfast sandwiches, wraps, acai bowls, salads and homemade gluten-free muffins. The café puts an emphasis on sourcing ingredients, and the chef talks to patrons and then delivers the food directly to their tables.

Specialty food stores have to figure out a way to differentiate themselves. Many struggling stores who have been in existence for years must come up with a good solution to stay open. The goal for specialty food retailers is to create an experience for customers that will be more compelling, interesting and fun than anything they can find online.

For the full story, go to this week’s Food Institute Report.