Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The urban supermarket concept cities should be seeking out

I have written about Sunflower Markets, the new division of Supervalu. Supervalu was originally a wholesale food distributor, but to protect their business relationships, they began purchasing supermarket chains when they came up for sale. For example, in the DC region, Supervalu owns Shoppers Food Warehouse. And they just purchased most of the assets of the Albertsons chain (based out west).

Sunflower is a small store--about 15,000 square feet--which seems perfectly sized for urban places. After all, do you really need to choose between 100 brands of toilet paper. And it's oriented to prepared and natural and organic foods, which is where the industry is trending.

I keep saying that cities, and the National League of Cities, ought to be approaching independent grocers such as via the National Grocers Association, and the Sunflower division of Supervalu, rather than focus on the larger companies, which have difficult to accommodate footprints of a minimum of 60,000 s.f. (In that context, Harris-Teeter is one of the rare traditional supermarket companies willing to go to two floors. Whole Foods does this in some markets also.)

Anyway, Sunflower is about to open their second store, in Lincoln Park in Chicago. See "Sunflower Market Makes Chicago Debut in Lincoln Park." Contact information for John Sturm, Sunflower's v.p. of operations, ought to be going into the rolodexes of city officials across the country. Also see this article from Modern Bakery, "Sunflower Market unveils natural in-store."

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