Mercato has been selected by the city of New York to become the e-commerce marketplace that will connect the city’s underserved communities to local grocery stores. Through this partnership, select stores in all five boroughs will begin offering their inventory online and via local delivery. This represents a new functionality for these stores.
“As a native New Yorker and the son of an independent grocer in Brooklyn, I am excited to work with the city to support these neighborhood grocers and to announce Mercato’s commitment to improving access to quality food for residents of areas that were impacted by the COVID crisis, while also providing these local retailers with a new sales channel,” said Bobby Brannigan, CEO and founder of Mercato, in a statement. “It’s really great to be able to support grocers who would not have otherwise had the resources to get on our platform if it weren’t for the support of City Hall and the New York City Economic Development Corp.”
Brooklyn-based Mercato currently operates in 45 states nationwide. It facilitates online ordering and delivery for more than 225 independent grocery and specialty food stores across New York City’s five boroughs. While Mercato has long partnered with New York City’s independent grocers such as Sahadi’s in Brooklyn, Patel Brothers in Queens and the various stores located in Chelsea Market, this new partnership is designed to empower stores in more marginalized neighborhoods.
“Putting equity at the center of the city’s recovery means ensuring New Yorkers have access to quality food that is healthy and affordable,” said James Patchett, president and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corp. (NYCEDC), in a release. “The partnership with Mercato gives seniors and other groups at a higher-risk for COVID-19 a safer means to access food. At the same time, independent grocery stores and participating vendors at our public markets, which are serving hard-hit communities, can grow their business by building their digital presence. This effort, which invests in both people and local businesses, will create a stronger New York for all.”
“Communities across New York City—and communities of color in particular—deserve access to fresh, healthy and affordable food, and need it now more than ever,” said Anusha Venkataraman, co-chair of the Taskforce subcommittee on Food Access & Insecurity and NYC chief service officer. “I am proud of the Taskforce’s work to expand and improve these important initiatives, and support local businesses in the process. Moreover, these options will help expand choice, including to culturally appropriate foods, so that New Yorkers can choose which foods they want to eat and feed their families."
The city’s arrangement with Mercato will allow customers to order from several stores at once within each neighborhood, replicating the experience of shopping in-person from store to store. The pilot program, which is now underway, includes independent grocery stores located in neighborhoods, identified by the Mayor’s Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, across the city, including Harlem, Mott Haven, Brownsville, Hollis, Richmond Hill, Stapleton and others. A number of participating stores are members of both the NYCEDC's FRESH program and its Public Markets network. The city of New York is waiving the setup fee for these stores, typically valued at $1,500, to get them up and running faster and more cost-effectively, officials say.
Built upon a mission of supporting independent stores, Mercato has been actively onboarding grocers during the COVID-19 crisis. The company, which equips stores with clean and seamless online ordering and delivery functionality, is committed to onboarding independent grocers in areas that need improved access to food.
As independent grocers are added to Mercato’s platform, they will become a part of ongoing consumer marketing campaigns, which include digital advertising, email and more. According to the company, the average Mercato store sees 100% increase in online sales within a few months of launch.