Fresh Story

The company that Walmart bought for $3 billion just opened the ‘grocery shop concept of the future’ in NYC — here’s what it’s like

Jet.com — the online retailer that Walmart bought in 2016 for $3 billion — is now selling some of its products IRL.

From May 10 to June 18, Jet will have a food-themed concept shop in Manhattan which showcases artisanal accessories, cookbooks, and kitchen appliances. Most of the items are pretty quirky, like face masks made from tomatoes, kale-flavored chocolate bars, socks with ice cream prints, and banana-shaped flasks.

The Jet experience comes to life at Story, a 5-year-old retail space that changes its products, decor, and events programming about every month based on its particular sponsor. For the next six weeks, the sponsor is Jet, where people can also find most of the store’s items.

The larger goal of the temporary store is to raise awareness around Jet’s grocery delivery service, Sumaiya Balbale, Jet’s VP of marketing, tells Business Insider.

As thousands of mall-based stores close around the country, she says the set-up — a store that’s constantly changing and includes interactive events — could signal the future of brick-and-mortar retail.

“Retail is rapidly evolving,”Balbale tells Business Insider. “Tech is changing a lot of the ways in which people shop, and the way that retailers can fulfill on those behaviors. It’s an exciting time to experiment. I don’t think shopping behaviors are set in stone, and there’s a lot of opportunity to help shape them.”

Widely considered an Amazon competitor, Jet was founded in 2014 by Marc Lore, who now serves as the CEO of Walmart E-commerce. Jet’s installation at Story is the first time the online retailer is selling its products in a physical location.

Business Insider got an inside look:


On May 10, Jet.com opened Fresh Story, at the store’s 2,000-square-foot location on Manhattan’s west side. It will be there for six weeks.

On May 10, Jet.com opened Fresh Story, at the store's 2,000-square-foot location on Manhattan's west side. It will be there for six weeks.

Sarah Jacobs

The partnership comes to life inside Story, a retail space that changes every three to eight weeks like a gallery. It was founded by consultant Rachel Shechtman in 2012.

The partnership comes to life inside Story, a retail space that changes every three to eight weeks like a gallery. It was founded by consultant Rachel Shechtman in 2012.

Rachel Shechtman, founder of Story.Sarah Jacobs

Past sponsors have included American Express, Mr. Robot, and GE. There have been 34 “stories” so far.

For Jet’s installation, Story laid artificial grass on the floor …

For Jet's installation, Story laid artificial grass on the floor ...

Sarah Jacobs

… and the walls. On a few walls, there’s also cherry scratch ‘n’ sniff wallpaper.

... and the walls. On a few walls, there's also cherry scratch 'n' sniff wallpaper.

Sarah Jacobs

Everything inside the space is food-themed, like these watermelon wallets and socks:

Everything inside the space is food-themed, like these watermelon wallets and socks:

Sarah Jacobs

Most of the tables and shelves revolve around a certain produce item. There are bowls of free, fresh fruit next to the products, too.

Most of the tables and shelves revolve around a certain produce item. There are bowls of free, fresh fruit next to the products, too.

Sarah Jacobs

“You can’t have fake fruit in a Fresh store!” Shechtman says.

There’s even a floor-to-ceiling installation of Jet boxes, which brings its delivery experience to life.

There’s even a floor-to-ceiling installation of Jet boxes, which brings its delivery experience to life.

Sarah Jacobs

Grocery delivery “is an area we’re really focused on and innovating in,” Balbale says.

Grocery delivery "is an area we're really focused on and innovating in," Balbale says.

Sarah Jacobs

All the products, which Shechtman’s team chose, are pretty unique.

All the products, which Shechtman's team chose, are pretty unique.

Sarah Jacobs

The average price for the store’s 680 items, which range from clothing accessories to artisanal food to kitchen gadgets, is $38, Shechtman tells BI.

The average price for the store's 680 items, which range from clothing accessories to artisanal food to kitchen gadgets, is $38, Shechtman tells BI.

Sarah Jacobs

The least expensive item in the store are these $5 grass pens …

The least expensive item in the store are these $5 grass pens ...

Sarah Jacobs

… while the most expensive item is Silicon Valley’s famed June Oven, which uses artificial intelligence to cook meals and costs $1,500.

... while the most expensive item is Silicon Valley's famed June Oven, which uses artificial intelligence to cook meals and costs $1,500.

Sarah Jacobs

The banana-themed clutch and sandals pictured below cost $1,095 and $795 respectively. They’re surrounded by other banana-themed items, like flasks and notebooks.

The banana-themed clutch and sandals pictured below cost $1,095 and $795 respectively. They're surrounded by other banana-themed items, like flasks and notebooks.

Sarah Jacobs

Though it may not be apparent to customers, the store’s floor features heat-mapping technology that can track people’s movements, Shechtman tells BI. If the system notices that a certain area of the store doesn’t attract many customers, the staff may choose to re-arrange the displays.

Though it may not be apparent to customers, the store's floor features heat-mapping technology that can track people's movements, Shechtman tells BI. If the system notices that a certain area of the store doesn't attract many customers, the staff may choose to re-arrange the displays.

Sarah Jacobs

The store will also host over a dozen events, including happy hours with live DJs, culinary workshops for kids, and free talks from big names like celebrity chef Mario Batali and beauty expert Bobbi Brown.

The store will also host over a dozen events, including happy hours with live DJs, culinary workshops for kids, and free talks from big names like celebrity chef Mario Batali and beauty expert Bobbi Brown.

Sarah Jacobs

“It’s going to be a cocktail of community and entertainment,” Schectman says.

The store will be a way for Jet to connect with customers IRL. “We are the same people offline as we are online. People are craving for connection in the physical world,” Shechtman tells BI.

The store will be a way for Jet to connect with customers IRL. "We are the same people offline as we are online. People are craving for connection in the physical world," Shechtman tells BI.

Sarah Jacobs

Jet’s larger goal of opening the temporary store is to raise awareness around its food delivery service as well as its more niche, artisanal offerings, Balbale says.

Jet's larger goal of opening the temporary store is to raise awareness around its food delivery service as well as its more niche, artisanal offerings, Balbale says.

Sarah Jacobs

“More and more folks are used to shopping for their everyday essentials and groceries, but by focusing on that yes, you can buy your Tropicana but also your specialty cheeses through Jet, it will hopefully showcase that we have a breadth of interesting things that you would otherwise not think of,” Balbale says.

"More and more folks are used to shopping for their everyday essentials and groceries, but by focusing on that yes, you can buy your Tropicana but also your specialty cheeses through Jet, it will hopefully showcase that we have a breadth of interesting things that you would otherwise not think of," Balbale says.

Sarah Jacobs

Though Story’s happy hours and talks may seem modern, in some ways, getting customers to interact in stores is not a new concept.

Though Story's happy hours and talks may seem modern, in some ways, getting customers to interact in stores is not a new concept.

Sarah Jacobs

As early as the mid-19th century, retailers have used events, like Christmas displays and celebrity author readings, as a way to market their products. Story’s Jet event with alcohol-infused ice cream, cocktails, and a DJ, for example, will be a 21st century update to that concept.

As early as the mid-19th century, retailers have used events, like Christmas displays and celebrity author readings, as a way to market their products. Story's Jet event with alcohol-infused ice cream, cocktails, and a DJ, for example, will be a 21st century update to that concept.

Sarah Jacobs

More big-box retailers are starting to push social events as well — to get customers to hang out in stores longer (and ideally buy more things). In 2015, Barnes and Noble launched its annual “Get Pop Cultured” series, which has included cosplay meet-ups and “throwback Thursdays” with 1950s-style hula hoop contests.

What is novel, however, is the fact that the entire interior and theme of Story changes almost every month. Though Story doesn’t consider itself a pop-up store (it has a permanent location), temporary retail has been a growing trend among brands in recent years.

What is novel, however, is the fact that the entire interior and theme of Story changes almost every month. Though Story doesn't consider itself a pop-up store (it has a permanent location), temporary retail has been a growing trend among brands in recent years.

Sarah Jacobs

The retail strategy of constantly being in flux may help brick-and-mortar stores, many of which will inevitably continue to feel competition from online retailers, survive in the 21st century.

The retail strategy of constantly being in flux may help brick-and-mortar stores, many of which will inevitably continue to feel competition from online retailers, survive in the 21st century.

Sarah Jacobs

Story is located at 144 10th Avenue on the southeast corner at 19th Street in New York City.

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