retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Penn Live has a story about a new Weis Markets prototype in Hampden Township, Pennsylvania, that has an expanded focus on the food experience, featuring a craft beer-centric pub, ice cream parlor, and an expanded foods-to-go selection.

Conceding that Weis is a middle-of-the-road chain facing off against bigger competitors such as Wegmans, Ahold and Walmart, CEO Jonathan Weis said that the store represents a desire to be "on trend. We want to be interesting, not boring or dull. We just have a philosophy that we're not going to be afraid to fail."

Among the features of the new store: a pub with a rotation selection of draft beers and a growler station, a food court with "sushi made in store as well as fresh cooked meals," "a grill counter with burgers, paninis and grilled vegetables," an "Asian food Wok station and Chobani Yogurt creation bar," "more than 1,900 organic and gluten-free grocery, dairy and frozen products," and a click-and-collect approach to e-commerce.

The company says that features will be rolled out to other stores as deemed appropriate.
KC's View:
While I appreciate the honesty, I think that leadership has to be careful about describing the company as being "middle-of-the-road." If they want to say that the company traditionally has occupied that space, that's fine ... but then they have to make clear that the current strategy is to get out of the mushy middle and more clearly define who the customer is and what the customer's driving needs are.

This store strikes me as a strong first step. But I think that, to quote Tom Furphy from our Innovation Conversation above, it is critical to "try things, measure and iterate quickly." Shoppers will reward them for it.