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Forager - Dumbo, New York

A valuable asset

A valuable asset

Tracey Pollard

The food store deli is part of New York life, traditionally driven by the lack of space in the tiny city centre apartments. The need to shop on a daily basis is now growing this side of the Atlantic as well, as we witness a growth in basket shops in supermarket and the rise in smaller organic food stores across London. The increase in the levels of eating out amongst city dwellers, the rise in the number of young people renting rather than buying, the increase in single occupancy and the limited size of kitchens in studios and apartments are all factors contributing to the death of the weekly grocery shop. Residential and office developers are therefore looking again at the concept of food stores at the bottom of their buildings and not seeing them as rent generators in their own right but as an amenity for the building and a hub for their new communities.  Many are now considering the independent operator, serving the local community as a more interesting concept than the national food stores, despite their high rents and strong covenants.
New York was therefore great inspiration for the neighbour food store. In Dumbo (Down under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) we stumbled across Forager, a store offering fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, bread and fish to dried staples such as pasta and cereals.  Foragers established a farm in Canaan, New York in 2009, to supply the restaurants and its two markets with a consistent source of eggs and produce. The store also sells daily basics such as shampoo and detergents, which can be transferred into your own recyclable containers to cut down on waste and packaging. The store also featured fresh coffee and strong hot and cold grab and go offers, therefore offering genuine reasons to revisit the store at least once a day.
Another great example was Depenneur in Williamsburg. This food store, located in the home of the hipsters didn't offer quite the same breadth of range as Forager but the store features a bespoke coffee concept at its heart and sells beautiful simply packaged goods and local produce alongside the day to day staples such as bread and milk. In both stores the relationship between staff and consumers far out weighted anything a supermarket could offer. Providing a sense of community and a genuine service for their residents; these small neighbourhood stores represent a far more valuable asset to their buildings than their rents would ever justify.