Innovación: Drink beer while you shop at this new Jacksonville grocery store

The store manager said the biggest draw to Lucky’s Market is the environment.

“We try to make it fun,” Matt Ambrosius, said.


The marketer said it’s about education.

“We take some of the stigma out of healthy eating,” said Brooke Buchanan.

But Bo Sharon, who owns the grocery chain, had a simpler reason.

“We take the price-point issue out of natural and organic foods,” he said.

Lucky’s opens its first store in Northeast Florida on Wednesday.

At least that’s the grand opening. The “now open” banner went up Tuesday at the former Proctor Ace Hardware in Neptune Beach for a soft opening, and customers started to straggle in.

Micah Cagnassola said she stopped in on a whim.

“I saw on Facebook that you can drink while you shop,” she said. “That’s very cool.”

That would be Lucky’s “sip and stroll,” where customers can buy a pint of beer for $3 or a glass of wine for $2, slip the glass into the holder on the cart and stroll off to the store.

Cagnassola didn’t buy a drink, though.

“It’s a bit early,” she said as she shopped at 10:30 a.m. She said she usually shops at Publix and Earth Fare, but that she liked what she’d seen so far at Lucky’s.

“There’s a lot of organic foods,” she said. “Way more than Publix. Maybe not as many as Earth Fare, but there’s a lot more produce here.”

Sharon is proud of the produce, and went back to price.

“Nobody sells it cheaper than we do,” he said.

Mangoes were only 19 cents, but that was a special for the opening.

“They’re four for $1 at the other stores,” he said. “That’s still just a quarter.”

Lucky’s is entering a Jacksonville grocery market that has become much more diverse and competitive. In addition to the large mainstream Publix and Winn-Dixie stores, Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Earth Fare and Freshfield Farm have all opened here in the past few years.

But Sharon thinks he can carve a niche with his store’s prices and an emphasis on natural and homemade. All the meats are smoked in-house, including the bacon.

“It has no nitrates and no nitrites,” he said. “We cure it with celery salt. And it’s only $5.99. That’s cheaper than Oscar Mayer.”

The paper products include no national brands.

“It all has to come from recycled paper,” he said. “That’s part of the company ethic.”

He said about 15 percent of the products are under the store’s name, but a few more are exclusive. Lucky’s imports its own wine, which it sells under the Vino Direct label.

“Nobody wants a bottle of wine called ‘Lucky’s,’” he said.

The store is 34,000 square feet, which is bigger than Trader Joe’s, Aldi or Earth Fare, but about 12,000 square feet smaller than a typical Publix or Winn-Dixie.

Much of it is taken up in the middle by bulk items. There are 24 types of coffee beans in bulk, at $8.99 a pound; 12 types of rice; and 75-80 spices; not to mention the granolas, dried fruits, nuts, candies, etc.

You can grind your own peanut butter. Ambrosius said he’s hoping to be able to add chocolate chips into that mix.

“My kids love that,” he said.

The juice bar squeezes fresh fruit. There’s an olive bar ($8.99 a pound) and a salad bar ($7.99 a pound.) Over at the apothecary, there are herbs in bulk, along with essential oils and diffusers sending out scented vapors.

Earlier this year, Lucky’s went into partnership with Kroger. Details of the deal were not disclosed, but analysts speculated that it could help fuel Lucky’s growth. That deal was announced soon after Kroger’s reported efforts to buy The Fresh Market didn’t work out.

The chain now has 22 stores in 13 states, opening nine this year. Sharon said he expects to open at least that many next year, and said another one in the Jacksonville area is certainly possible.

“We don’t consider this a Jacksonville store,” he said. “It’s a Neptune Beach store. Would we look at Jacksonville? For sure.”

Meanwhile, Cagnassola was still working her way through the store.

“This is competition,” she said. “And that’s good for the consumer.”

Fuente: First coast news

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