Giant Food Stores’ second urban-format store, Heirloom Market, opens Friday in University City, with more kombucha on tap, an expanded frozen pizza section, increased grab-and-go meal selections, and the ability to accept payment from Drexel University’s ID cards.
The first 50 customers to exit will receive $10 gift cards and the first 250 customers will get free Giant Heirloom Market cotton tote bags. Store hours will be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
The Carlisle-based company has operated a store on Grant Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia since 2011, but the Heirloom Market store at 2303 Bainbridge St. that opened in January was its first downtown location. Like that store, the University City location has a beer and wine section, the ability for customers to personalize an olive oil and vinegar blend, and a sushi section. There’s also a section for students to pick up Giant Direct orders.
Giant president Nicholas Bertram declined to share revenue numbers from the first Heirloom Market store, but said sales per week are 15 percent higher than the company’s original estimates.
This new store, he said, is “another important step in our growth."
The company also plans to open Heirloom Market stores in Northern Liberties at 1002 N. Second St. by late October, and in Queen Village at 201 South St. by the first quarter of 2020.
The University City store will have about 52 full- and part-time employees, many of whom are students, said Angel Cordero, the store manager.
Giant has 180 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia and more than 32,000 employees. It first announced plans for the urban-format store during the company’s 95th anniversary celebration at Dilworth Park in October. At the time, Bertram said the company was missing an opportunity to serve Philadelphia’s growing residential population.
Aldi, Mom’s Organic, Sprouts, and Target have all opened Center City locations to reach residents who previously lacked robust grocery store options. Giant’s parent, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, tried to reach city residents with bfresh, a small-format grocery store for these markets, but ended up dropping the plan in 2017.
Each Heirloom store is personalized to its neighborhood. Customers who exit through self-checkout in the University City store use registers labeled with such streets as Carlisle, Chestnut, Market, Race, and Lancaster. These Heirloom stores are also Giant’s first without plastic bags, but Bertram said he is “most concerned” about the plastic inside of packaging and is working with suppliers to reduce plastic involved in production and shipping of products.
“I believe, personally, in free choice for customers, instead of penalizing them," he said. “But I also believe that we have a duty to make it as easy as possible to stop using some of these plastic bags.”
Other stores, such as the Fresh Grocer, Old Nelson Food Company, 7-Eleven, and Wawa, are within walking distance of the Giant Heirloom Market store and there are always delivery options such as UberEats and Postmates, but Bertram said he believes that students will choose Giant when wanting to cook their own meals.