After the successful opening of Giant Food Stores’ first urban format store in Philadelphia last month, the Carlisle, Pa.-based company will open three more stores throughout the city, president Nicholas Bertram said Tuesday.
The new Giant Heirloom Markets will occupy 9,950 square feet in University City at 3401 Chestnut St., 9,500 square feet in Northern Liberties at 1002 N. Second St., and 17,000 square feet in Queen Village at 201 South St. Giant expects to open the location in University City in the summer, Northern Liberties in the fall, and Queen Village in the winter, Bertram said.
>> READ MORE: A new kind of Giant is coming to 2303 Bainbridge St.
While the new stores will include many of the successful products featured at the recently opened 2303 Bainbridge St. location, they will also adapt to each neighborhood, Bertram said. The University City location, for example, will have more grab-and-go meals and breakfast options, and intends to accept the Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania student cards, the DragonCard and PennCard, as payment, Bertram said.
“It proves that we are serious about serving Philadelphians. We’ve already got a strong e-commerce business, we love our store on Grant Avenue [in the Northeast], and we love our business in the suburbs,” Bertram said. But in the Heirloom Markets, Bertram said, “we’re flexing our innovative muscles a bit more than we have in the past.”
Store hours at the Bainbridge location are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, and Bertram expects them to be similar at the new locations, but it could change depending on traffic. The four stores will create about 150 full- and part-time jobs, he said.
Bertram declined to share sales data from the Bainbridge store, which opened on Jan. 25, but said, “We had an ambitious plan and it has exceeded it so far.”
Giant has more than 170 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The Heirloom formats are purposefully different from the Giant stores throughout the suburbs, said Paul Madarieta, Giant’s director of growth initiatives, who oversaw the design of this concept. Madarieta and his team drew inspiration from Amsterdam’s smaller grocery stores and blended that with Philadelphia’s style, he said.
While walking throughout the store, Madarieta pointed out the metal rails above food with titles in lit-up lettering like “Garden” instead of the more traditional “Produce,” and “Land and Sea” instead of “Meat and Seafood." Though these choices were in part inspired by European grocery decor, Madarieta emphasized how the company used a Philadelphia-area artist, Ali M. Williams, to paint murals and signage throughout the store, and how the format highlights Philadelphia-specific food retailers.
“We’re using the same base elements of Giant as far as our pricing schemes," Madarieta said. "We just maybe have a different look and feel with this brand.”
Concepts highlighted in the Bainbridge location — such as kombucha on tap, create-your-own olive oil and vinegar, and a prominent display of Souderton-based One Village Coffee, where a dollar from every sale of the Heirloom specific blend goes to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — are also expected to be included in the three new stores. The stores also have amenities like a produce chef, a sampling station, fresh-made sushi, and beers and wines.
“We’re testing a lot of things here that we intend to try in a lot of stores going forward,” Bertram said.
There is only self-checkout at the Heirloom store, but there is an employee assigned to that area to help customers who prefer to have someone else bag their groceries. Bertram said he has noticed customers taking selfies with the self-checkout counters named after the streets in the local neighborhood, like Grays Ferry Avenue and Naudain Street. The new stores throughout Philadelphia will have the names of streets in those neighborhoods.
The Heirloom store also includes company brands from Giant and its parent Ahold Delhaize, featuring Taste of Inspirations, Nature’s Promise and the Giant brand.
“You’re not going to see Cheerios,” Madarieta said.
If there are products customers can’t find in the store, they can order them for in-store pick up or next day delivery.
The Bainbridge location is also the first Giant store without any plastic bags and Bertram plans to continue this at the new Heirloom Market stores. Customers can use brown paper bags or reusable totes for groceries.
There’s also a seating area with a wood table made from reclaimed bowling alley wood, Madarieta said. If customers want to spend more time in the store, they can also log onto the free wifi, use electrical plugs to recharge phones, and play some board games.
The first Heirloom Market highlights not just Philadelphia, but the products from businesses near 2303 Bainbridge St. While the Heirloom market does not have a bakery on site, it does carry items like the spelt baguette and mocha donuts from High Street on Market, ricotta cheese from Claudio Specialty Foods, and mascarpone and ricotta cannolis from Isgro Pastries.
“We want there to be some sort of local, beautiful flair in every store,” Bertram said.