PHILADELPHIA -- Blending modern innovation and community focus, Giant Food Stores on Jan. 25 debuted its highly anticipated Giant Heirloom Market in Philadelphia’s Graduate Hospital neighborhood in southwest Center City. The new store concept features a smaller, unique format and a “skinnied-down” assortment, specially curated for food-centric consumers and urban neighborhoods.
Spearheaded by Paul Madarieta, Giant Food Stores’ director of growth initiatives, the Carlisle, Pa.-based retailer spent months meeting with Philly residents to identify the community’s needs and ultimately determine the store’s product variety and 9,500-square-foot layout, which features fresh, local and specialty items merchandised in distinct category departments, such as “plant-based.”
“One of the big focuses right out the gate was to put things where customers would normally anticipate purchasing them,” Madarieta told CSP Daily News sister publication WGB. “That’s been a real big focus as we were designing this, to really think about the customer as we were doing it.”
Upon entry, shoppers are greeted by a vibrant Garden produce department, featuring affordable, high-quality and organic offerings, as well as an onsite produce chef available to freshly cut fruit and vegetables on demand while also encouraging customers’ exploration of diverse produce varieties.
“Overwhelmingly, produce was at the forefront of [locals’] commentary,” Madarieta said. “So that has been the main feature for us, as it has always been what Giant does really, really well.”
Situated next to the deli and sandwich kitchen—which features sliced meats and premade sandwiches featuring Boar’s Head’s Simplicity brand—the produce chef is also available to offer samples and guide shoppers on dinner suggestions.
Additional fresh offerings include grab-and-go lunch salads, a Land and Sea section featuring meat and seafood and a sushi chef, preparing fresh-made sushi daily. Giant Heirloom Market also offers a gift department, featuring floral arrangements and related gift items such as greeting cards and gift cards.
The retailer’s cheese department, named Pairings, is strategically located next to the bakery section with the intention of streamlining the shopping experience by merchandising pairing items, such as bread and crackers, nearby.
Touting a community focus, Giant Heirloom Market also partnered with Philly food purveyors, including High Street on Market; Isgro Pastries, featuring cookies, cannolis and cheesecakes; Severino’s, offering Italian meals, balsamic vinegar, cheese and pastas; and Sarcone’s Bakery, featuring tomato pie and loaf breads.
“We’re proud to serve our Graduate Hospital neighbors during their culinary quests by offering fresh produce, meat and seafood alongside the Philly products they know and love, all in a store designed for them,” said Angel Cordero, store manager, in a statement. “We’re confident that by providing an authentic shopping experience, our passion for locally sourced products and our customers will shine bright at Giant Heirloom Market.”
Among the store’s highlights is its plant-based section, boasting a vast assortment of fresh and frozen vegan items, such as tempeh, tofu, chorizo seitan, Chao slices, Beyond Meat, Halo Top ice cream and burger alternatives from Giant’s own brand, Nature’s Promise.
“We've given it its own section,” Madarieta said. “So somebody that's looking for plant-based is going to just have to go to one spot, instead of having to travel into [other sections] because it was dispersed all throughout the store.”
Giant Heirloom Market also boasts a vast array of grocery items spanning four aisles. Meal-building products feature Hispanic, Asian and Indian items, as well as avocado oil, vinegar and baking products. The retailer also carries a number of wellness items, including its private brand, Nature’s Promise, featuring items that are organic and free-from nonessential ingredients such as synthetic colors and artificial flavors.
The store also offers about 15 feet dedicated solely to gluten-free grocery, according to Madarieta, which includes gluten-free pastas, cookies, crackers and snacks.
In addition to kombucha on tap, Giant Heirloom Market also features a DIY olive oil station where shoppers can create their own unique olive oil or blend their own balsamic vinegar with flavors such as fig, rosemary, peach and garlic. The store also partnered with One Village Coffee to offer a coffee station where shoppers can grind their own beans.
Boasting a curated selection of craft, imported and domestic beers and wines, Giant Heirloom Market offers a premium selection of adult beverages, including Portuguese Vino Vedre, Spanish Albarinos or rojas, cabernet, chardonnay and rose, as well as a “mix-a-six” beer option.
“We assume that our customers are on the food journey,” said Madarieta. “They want to be inspired, so we wanted to inspire them with a range that was just a little bit different, a little bit more eclectic, a little bit more diverse than normal.”
In addition to partnerships with local vendors, the new store features a mural from Philadelphia-based artist Ali Williams, located in the gathering area of the store where shoppers can sit and socialize.
Carlisle, Pa.-based Giant Food Stores said it plans to open three more Giant Heirloom Markets in Philadelphia in 2019.