Snack Feature: Lucky's Market
- by Christofer Oberst
Lucky's Market has been featured in the latest edition of AndNowUKnow’s print publication, The Snack Magazine. Peter Gialantzis, Lucky's Vice President of Purchasing and former twelve-year Whole Foods Supply Chain and Product Management Executive, shares how this retro organic grocer continues to grow while keeping its focus on community and 'Good Food for All.'
Check out The Snack article by clicking here, or read the full text below:
Good Food for All
“Good Food for All.” These words are always the first and last you’ll see when you take a journey through this retro up-and-coming organic grocer. Simple, yet sophisticated. It’s a philosophy that’s instilled in every single square inch of the store. From the spacious, colorful produce aisles to the eclectic bakery and deli sections, this independently owned and operated market takes grocery atmosphere to a whole other level. With its 1920s era American art deco aesthetic and evocative décor, you might just think you’ve taken a trip through time. Old-fashioned, down to earth style. Welcome to Lucky’s Market.
Food is the connection that ties everyone together at Lucky’s. If you ask founders and chefs Trish and Bo Sharon, they would have to agree. Their vision was to create a grocery store with a genuine, personal touch that offered quality products at an affordable price. Driven by their passion for food, Trish and Bo opened such a store over ten years ago in Boulder, Colorado. It was only a modest 13,000 square feet, but it was adored by the community. The neighborhood-focused, anti-corporate concept gave shoppers a very comfortable, vintage shopping experience, but it was the fresh local, organic, sustainable, and traditionally crafted foods that kept them coming back for more. The first Lucky’s Market was successful since day one, and Trish and Bo sought to expand their concept further in Longmont, Colorado. Although the store was larger in size at approximately 24,000 square feet, the same spirit and ideology of Trish and Bo’s “good food for all” translated over smoothly.
Peter Gialantzis, Lucky’s Vice President of Purchasing and former twelve-year Whole Foods Supply Chain and Product Management Executive, tells me that the reason the company is so different from other organic grocery stores is that it combines the best of both conventional and premium markets to offer a better value for shoppers.
“We’re looking to compete with the premium markets in terms of quality and merchandising, and to compete with conventional markets on price. We’re the best of both worlds,” he said, making a note of the fact that Lucky’s doesn’t have centralized purchasing and packaging. “Lucky’s is a young, local company. We aspire to grow decade-long partnerships and foster partnerships that are sustainable. We’ve grown quickly, and we will continue to grow quickly.”
"Our food must be presented in an accessible and approachable way."
Indeed, since those first two stores in Colorado, the company has expanded nationally into Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Michigan, and Wyoming, and has continued to see positive reception in each community. People may have different tastes, but Lucky’s is always received in the same exact way no matter which city it’s in. Peter says that the reason Lucky’s is so successful is because it hasn’t had a broad brush approach to expansion. In fact, a lot of its products are sourced from ten miles away. Lucky’s commitment to local suppliers is what allowed the company to grow the way it has so far. Rather than taking a strictly bottom line approach, they look at which neighborhoods need their concept the most and fill those demands and opportunities. Lucky’s isn’t about taking a behemoth, bulldozer approach to expansion. This isn’t a traditional corporate growth strategy.
“It’s just not as fun that way!” he laughs. “We figure it out with our locally grown and sourced program. Our food must be presented in an accessible and approachable way. We don’t want to aspire to change the world through broad initiatives. We want to become part of the community and have a strong and giving presence.”
Lucky’s is about giving people a shopping experience they won’t forget. It’s a place where people can hang out and participate in community activities such as weekly grilling events, but it’s also a place where they can be in and out in five minutes. Although, with such a fun, carnival-esque aesthetic, why would you want to leave in just five minutes? No matter where you go or where you look, Lucky’s always has a fun, eye-catching display or sign that takes you back to a simpler time. The bright, vintage design is ironically what keeps the store fresh and engaging in modern times, and the enthusiastic, artistic approach brings out the best in each store section. The vibrant produce section invites shoppers to a broad, colorful collection of fruits and veggies, while a sign overhead with an orange slice declares, “Squeeze the Day.” The beer bar, Bits & Bites, offers shoppers a place to hang out and take a swig out of Lucky’s beer jugs or sample its house-made potato chips and pretzel bites. Lucky’s deli section boasts house-smoked and house-cured natural meats, all locally sourced, with cheeses and antipasti galore. The bakery provides foodies with “build your own” style pizzas, with cured meats from the store butcher, homemade and hand-tossed dough, veggies from its farmers, and handcrafted sauces. The secret ingredient? Love. Lucky’s wants to be a positive contributor to the community.
"Lucky's friendly, knowledgeable staff is the melting pot of the food industry."
The centerpiece of every Lucky’s store is always fresh produce. Everything in terms of store design and advertisements revolves around produce.
“We have a higher percentage of produce sales than any other company that I am aware of,” says Peter. “Produce drives our decision making process. It starts with produce, and everything else follows suit.”
Lucky’s friendly, knowledgeable staff is the melting pot of the food industry. It’s a very diverse group, with a staff that comes from conventional markets, chef backgrounds, and of course, farming backgrounds.
“We challenged ourselves to strip out anything that isn’t necessary,” Peter continued. “We only wanted things that mattered to people. We have great expertise in our produce buying team; we know how and where to find the best product at the best costs… but what matters most is that customers can trust our quality 365 days a year, and we’re meeting or beating the conventional chains on price seven days a week. There’s no reason why anyone wouldn’t want to shop with us.”
Looking ahead, Lucky’s anticipates opening at least ten stores over the next year, covering a very wide part of the country. There’s a big opportunity for new players to enter the market, and Lucky’s is looking for communities that yearn for good food at good prices. That means a strict commitment to keeping products local.
Simple and fresh, with strong passion for good, local food. That is Lucky’s in a nutshell. It’s the unrelenting commitment to quality food, quality service, and quality relationships with its suppliers and shoppers that makes Lucky’s so lucky.
Good food for all? I agree.