Published on: May 21, 2015
This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. And in this case, apologies for some audio that is a little iffy.
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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy...coming to you this week from Boston, Massachusetts ... birthplace of the American Revolution, home to the Red Sox, Sam Adams beer, and Spenser ... and today, where I am visiting the new Roche Bros. store in Downtown Crossing.
A few weeks ago, I was in Toronto looking at Longo's terrific urban stores, and now I'm visiting the Roche Bros. version of this particular animal. It is an outstanding two-level unit in a fast-growing neighborhood that has no car traffic, but lots of foot and subway traffic...the neighborhood is loaded with office buildings and stores, with more coming.
The small street level section is essentially a convenience store...hot and cold beverages, hot and cold take out foods, and express checkouts to get you on your way.
Downstairs, Roche Bros. has more of a traditional shopping experience...but this chain, which has long served suburban Boston, seems to have adjusted the mix and look to suit this highly urban environment. It is very sleek, very modern, very hip. Tons of foods to go, for both office and home, with lots of mainstream and specialty food choices.
And the store has what looks to be a full selection of grocery....in fact, with fewer facings and some smart architecture, it may even have more.
Roche Bros.' Downtown Crossing store seems to be set up to serve people who are going back to their offices, or people who are on their way home from work - you can shop for a quick meal, for the evening, or even for the week (though the lack of a parking lot means the last probably would be impractical). But there's always the subway ... there's a conveniently located T stop right outside its doors.
I like this Roche Bros. store a lot...it just feels like what you'd want an urban store to feel like. And from all reports, it has gained immediate acceptance,with lots of morning and lunchtime crowds and a sense that this is just what the neighborhood has been waiting for.
It's ironic. Just a few blocks from here, on Devonshire Street, was the original J. Bildner & Sons, the first of a chain of stores started by Jim Bildner, son of the longtime Kings Supermarkets CEO,who back in the mid-eighties believed that there was a future for small, foodservice-driven markets that would serve what then were called yuppies. Well, Jim Bildner was way too early to the party, his stores failed (for a variety of reasons), and Yuppies have gotten old ... but in many ways he was prescient.
This Roche Bros. urban store is in some ways a descendant of that Bildner store ... and it is one definition of an urban future that I think is very exciting.
That's what's on my mind this Thursday morning ... and as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: