Main & Vine, Kroger’s experimental small-store concept highlighting fresh and local foods, is closing its its lone location in in Gig Harbor, Wash., in January, a little less than two years after it opened, a company spokeswoman confirms.
Kristal Howard tells Winsight Grocery Business that Main & Vine was a “unique venture for Kroger from the onset.
“From the Main & Vine experience, we have learned many things about some of the best ways to provide quality, fresh and new foods to our customers,” she says. “Our family of companies has already started to incorporate some of these features and unique offerings in other stores across the country, including the new Fred Meyer store opening next month in Gig Harbor.”
Main & Vine will close around Jan. 9, Howard says. The company is working to transfer the store’s 80 employees to its other stores in the area, including QFC and Fred Meyer.
The news follows recent reports that Ahold Delhaize was closing one of its Bfresh stores and reevaluating other planned locations for the brand. Like Main & Vine, Bfresh was conceived as a way to test reaching young urban “foodies” in a way conventional supermarkets were not.
At the time of Main & Vine’s opening, “Grocerant Guru” Steven Johnson called the concept a “Whole Foods lookalike with a ‘show-rooming’ e-commerce twist” in a LinkedIn article. In his article, Johnson predicted that Main & Vine would have the ability to drive high volume sales at opening, but would not be able to generate enough income to cover labor costs and operational inefficiencies that characterize a high-service, perishable-driven store.
No reason for the closure was given, and local customers expressed disappointment with the news.
“I had no idea that they were going to close, I actually thought they were doing pretty well,” customer Casey Olive told The News Tribune. “I would hate if it closed because it’s one of my favorite places to come on a day off to relax and enjoy myself.”
The news even sparked on online petition to save the store, which currently has fewer than half of the 1,000 goal number of supporters.
“Residents of Gig Harbor and surrounding area love Main & Vine and would hate to lose it. It has a special place in the array of grocery options and it is a favorite of family and friends alike,” the petition reads.
Kroger is continuing to test new concepts. Its Kitchen 1883 restaurant opened last month in Union, Ky.