retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times yesterday had an interview with former Trader Joe's executive Doug Rauch, who early next year will open his first Daily Table store in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. The Daily Table will specialize in selling, as fast food prices, products that are either past their official sell-by date, cosmetically blemished, or "excess."

"We’re going to grab all of this stuff, bring it on-site, cook prepared meals with it and also offer milk, eggs, bread and produce," Rauch says. "It’s going to be priced the same as junk food, basically … You will be able to get a good whole-grain loaf of bread for somewhere between 50 and 75 cents, and I think most of America feels very comfortable with using bread past its sell-by date. Most Americans probably have out-of-code bread at home or in their refrigerator, and none of us give it a second thought."

Rauch says that the concept isn't all that revolutionary: "I’m actually not doing anything different than what many high-end, high-priced national retailers do. Within their store, they recover meat or chicken or fish that’s been out on the display counter and, instead of throwing it out, they’ll cook it up fresh and they’ll put it out on their hot tray the next day."

The key, he says, is to create a better informed consumer who understands the concept.

"I think that we need to become better informed," he says. "At Daily Table, our approach is to create an environment that is warm, friendly, bright and the average person walking in would not in any way think that they were getting anything but first-rate product … As with anything, you need some early adopters, and they go out and they become your messengers. They’ll tell their neighbors, the neighbors will go, Huh? and they’ll come down and try it. Generally, food is cheaper than labor, so grocers do everything they can to cut labor costs. A basket of raspberries that has one moldy raspberry in it, they’ll toss that. I’d like to take that, sort through it, pick out the good raspberries and offer them to customers dirt cheap, so they can have raspberries."
KC's View:
Doesn't sound all that appetizing to me. But when it opens, I'm driving up there … because I want to see how Rauch, an estimable retailer, makes this work.