Friday, August 26, 2011

Grocery Suits Descend on Culinaria

While walking the aisles of the downtown Culinaria today you could not avoid the impression that corporate heavyweights were in town. Whether it was their crisp professional attire, taller than average heights, or the way they were all testing out the computer gadgetry in the food lines, it was clear this group was on some sort of field trip/fact finding mission.

Indeed they were. I asked a staff member what was up, whether there was a corporate meeting or gathering of grocery execs, and she said there was. Grocery professionals, colleagues from different companies around the eastern 1/3 of the US, were in St. Louis, checking out Schnucks stores with a particular interest in its Culinaria, urban grocery store model.

Cleveland and Kansas City have "Constantinos" markets, St. Louis has "Culinaria" and more and more old urban centers are getting their own cool varieties of downtown, full-service grocery stores. It's a sign that sustainable, urban-centered living is on the rise.

Standing in the Kaldi's line, I saw a friend of mine who lives 30 miles away and works downtown leaving the store. The Arch may be the symbol of St. Louis, but Culinaria is quickly becoming her crossroads.


GMichaud said...

It is the future of retail, to return to small scale, urban shops, even more small scale the the Culinaria. The missing ingredients are transit, density and public space.
The death grip the oil industry has on America, with the subsidiaries it has created, the concrete cartel, strip malls, and auto orientated development will be difficult to overthrow. But we are coming to the time were there is no choice but to live more sustainable lives.
It may appear to be a business decision, but capitalism is a failure. It is hidebound and immovable with imagined profits.
When true innovation takes place it will look much different than the Culinaria.
As recent news reports have indicated, corporations such as Schnucks are against farmers markets, they may take business away from their stores. So much for sustainability.

J.D said...

I shop at the Culinaria and love the urban grocery store feel. None the less, what I find missing is the neighborhood feel. Schnucks (big retail) is stamped all over it. Still, it will be my primary shopping locale.