Founder and CEO Mike Fogarty describes Choice Market as a hybrid fast-casual restaurant/natural grocery/c-store. And that’s why Choice is the perfect name for the concept.
“It has a double meaning: higher-quality, premium, but also multiple options,” he says.
Omnichannel options include online and app ordering, delivery, traditional checkout and selfcheckout. And menu items include gluten-free, dairyfree and paleo offerings. The approximately 2,600-square-foot Denver store, which opened last fall, also has kombucha, beer and wine on tap, a full coffee program, and a bread section with bagels and freshly baked goods from local bakeries.
About 80% of the merchandise is on the natural, organic or better-for-you spectrum, while 20% is more traditional c-store fare, Fogarty says.
Fogarty grew up outside Philadelphia a loyal Wawa customer. The c-store chain was an influence in developing Choice, he says. But an even greater influence were the corner stores he saw during his study abroad in Barcelona.
“We would frequent these small-format grocery stores that are on every corner,” he says. “We went there probably five times a week, sometimes every day. You get in, you get out in less than 10 or 15 minutes. They have one or two items within each category. That type of shopping experience I felt was missing in the U.S. market.”
A second Choice Market in Denver is opening in early 2019, and Fogarty is scouting additional locations in Denver as well as other markets, including California and the Southeast. The goal is to expand quickly over the next few years and get into at least three new markets within about two years.
“Convenience is an adjective,” says Fogarty. “You can make convenient good food.”
“[It seemed] like a really great opportunity to redefine what a convenience store can and should be.”
Photograph courtesy of Emily Sellers