Retailers

New Online Grocer Enters Denver Market

Pinemelon to focus on fresh and local
Pinemelon
Photograph courtesy of Pinemelon

Denver’s grocery market just added another player. Pinemelon, an online-only grocery delivery startup, launched April 12 in the Mile High City, looking to fill a supply-chain gap widened during the pandemic.

Pinemelon, which describes itself as a local-first online grocer, said its focus is on natural, organic and better-for-you foods—prioritizing Colorado businesses and producers whenever possible.

“With an ultimate target of 20%-25% local products, customers can expect a wide variety of meats as well as fresh produce and goods from Colorado-based farmers,” Pinemelon said in a statement. Along with looking to elevate startups and independent brands, Pinemelon said it will also offer pantry and household staples from national and value-driven brands.

Pinemelon is a vertically integrated company, owning all parts of sourcing, purchasing and delivering. The grocer said this model has allowed it to address common retailer pain points pertaining to staff, suppliers and customers. Like other online-only grocers, Pinemelon operates without a brick-and-mortar retail storefront: Products from producers/distributors go to the Pinemelon fulfillment center and then directly to customers. The company notes that its delivery drivers are staff members, rather than gig workers, and that workers can get healthcare and other benefits. Pinemelon also touts that its ordering process is customizable; customers' items are hand-picked; and the company owns its vans to take orders on temperature-controlled and safe journeys.

Pinemelon CEO Alexey Lee has built this business model over the past three years in Central Asia, creating Kazakhstan’s largest online supermarket, Arbuz.kz.

Denver has a number of similarities with Almaty, Kazakhstan, in terms of size, proximity to mountains and an active population wanting to consume foods grown and produced on their own lands, Pinemelon said. These factors led Lee to choose Denver as Pinemelon’s U.S. headquarters and with America’s e-commerce food and beverage industry seeing continued and predicted growth, a move to the States was natural, the company said in a statement.

“Our team, a mix of Coloradans and recent transplants with over 60 years combined experience in the U.S. grocery industry, has used the past several months to visit and onboard area farmers and food artisans,” Lee said in a statement. “Next, we are all about building customer relationships at delivery drop-offs and throughout the community. The human element is just as important to us as completing an order accurately and on time.”

Pinemelon’s fulfillment center is located at 5915 Broadway in Denver and delivers within a 30-minute radius from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. MT seven days a week.

“One of our overarching goals is to become a community aggregator, making local accessible from both a convenience and price perspective,” said Chris Franklin, Pinemelon’s general manager, in a statement. “We’re listening to suppliers and consumers so both can have meaningful and long-lasting relationships with Pinemelon."

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