The Grand Return of the Mom & Pop Shop


I live a few blocks away from where my grandfather played stickball as a kid in Brooklyn. Despite the generation gap, my food shopping habits look more like his family’s shopping habits than my parents'.

Throughout the week, I go to several specialty and local stores. I buy meat from the supermarket or butcher, and pick up produce from the shop across the street or from a Community Supported Agriculture program held at a nearby bar.

This method of shopping isn’t just something you find in the city.

Large retailers have been remodeling their departments so that stores offer the experience of smaller shops.

For instance, SN’s Roseanne Harper reports on Meijer’s decision to revamp its meat department to make the department feel like an old-time butcher shop.

Meijer upgraded both the quality of beef and the service. The meat department will now have exclusively Certified Angus beef and certified meat cutters.

Retailers are also offering a store within a store by hosting farmers’ markets and CSA programs.

On the nonfood side, Target Corp. fosters the small-store feeling by bringing in specialty stores for a few months at a time, allowing customers to purchase  boutique products.

Leslie Sarasin, CEO and president of the Food Marketing Institute, predicted that along with a rise in online shopping, there will be a shift toward smaller store formats.

These stores will be focused on price, assortment or convenience, she said in her predictions for the year 2022 at the Fresh Summit Convention in Anaheim, Calif., last month.

Read more: Fresh Summit Panel Makes 2022 Predictions

She predicted that the small store format would not only include fewer products, but a more personalized experience.

Sarasin described the evolution of food retailing: mom-and-pop stores in the ’20s, grocery stores in the ’40s and ’50s, supermarkets in the ’60s and ’70s and “ubermarkets” in the ’80s and ’90s.

It may very well be that we’ll be circling back to the early 20th century model, with a twist.  

Sarasin expects that in 2022 retailers will make use of technology to understand shoppers’ needs, but that the core of the mom-and-pop shops will emerge.

“And now [in 2022] what we have is a return to the personalized service and values of the mom-and-pop stores that we started with back in the beginning of the previous century,” she said.

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Liz Webber

Liz Webber is Engagement Director / Fresh Market Editor at Supermarket News. She covers fresh foods for the magazine and creates multimedia, blog posts and other content for the website. She joined...

Elliot Zwiebach

Elliot Zwiebach has been with Supermarket News for more than 45 years — a span difficult for him to comprehend, having once been the youngest reporter on the staff. During that time he has...
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