A few years ago, I said with the increasing popularity of ecommerce, retailers were going to have to start building a case to draw consumers to their stores.

 It’s coming true, and retailers are responding.

As grocery pickup and delivery continue to rage ahead in availability — as I write this, Instacart has a foothold in eight of the top grocers in America, and Walmart just expanded its delivery — brick and mortar stores are launching new formats, remodels...and even singles nights?

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey joked at the Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Exposure that people shop at Whole Foods to “meet beautiful women.” His interviewer, CNN’s Alison Kosik, asked him if people really do that, and then shared her own story of getting hit on at a Whole Foods. A couple recently got married at Whole Foods, Mackey said, also joking that they must not have been able to find “a more affordable venue than Whole Foods.”

But it’s not just that.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article, “The Hottest Social Scene in Town Isn’t the Singles’ Bar. It’s the Supermarket,” and discussed retailers like Mariano’s, Lucky’s Market, Market of Choice and Lowe’s Foods — all of which promote local community events, and have features like in-store eateries and even brew pubs.

The opulent leather chairs in front of the fireplace at Schnucks’ Des Peres, Mo., store invite customers to lounge, not just shop, and I’ve done it on several occasions.

The new H Mart in Austin, Texas, features the Brooklyn-based chain’s first food hall. My family visited on opening weekend and it was wall-to-wall people, with live music and what I’m only guessing was great food, because I wasn’t keen on waiting in line for an hour for ramen.

If you build it, they will come, and buy some groceries while they’re at it.

Leave your comment