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A green step in the right direction

Gotham-Greens-rooftop-gardenIf you are the kind of person who is waiting for the ‘right’ thing to happen, you might wait for a long time. It’s like waiting for all the traffic lights to be green for five miles before starting the trip. Robert Kiyosaki

Every week we work with clients to help them continuously build on their omni channel strategies, providing unique and differentiated shopping experiences for their customers and overall building a greater and ‘fitter’ retail portfolio.

In 2016, it is predicted that many retailers will turn to demonstrating their position of leadership in areas such as sustainability and corporate social responsibility, to differentiate themselves in a highly competitive market, create positive customer association with their brand whilst contributing to worthwhile causes.

Not only is this morally an exciting step for the retail sector, but potentially a profitable move for retailers too, with 55 per cent of people around the globe prepared to pay more for green products according to Nielsen.

Over the past two weeks we have brought you award winning innovative retailers Vigga and, as voted for by our partners and colleagues at Ebeltoft Group, a global alliance of retail thought leaders of which Retail Doctor Group are the Australian representative. This week, we join our American partners in celebrating the successes of Whole Foods who are driving innovation and sustainable thinking through their latest flagship offer.

At over 5200sqm, Whole Foods’ new Brooklyn flagship, in the suburb of Gowanus, offers a full range of high-quality natural and organic foods, in addition to the rooftop greenhouse built in partnership with New York’s Gotham Greens. Whole Foods spotlights sustainability, creating ties to the local neighbourhood.

Whole Foods redefines the meaning of local within a traditional grocery store. The store is home to a host of local products from many of Brooklyn’s noted artisan producers, with one-of-a-kind, exclusive items in every department. In contrast to other Whole Foods, this store is particularly Brooklyn-centric, with a strong intention to redefine the true meaning of ‘local’. The store houses hundreds of locally sourced products, with 200 additional items specifically curated for the Brooklyn location. The store features 32 registers, 240 parking spaces, cafeteria seating for 250 and rooftop setting for 100.

The store also features many special additions adding to the store experience and ultimately, it’s sustainable point of difference:

  • A rooftop greenhouse: The 2000sqm urban garden grows leafy greens, tomatoes and herbs, which are sold in store. Whole Foods partnered with a local company, Gotham Greens, to run the greenhouse, where it plans to harvest 150 tons of produce per year. The produce is sold both in the Gowanus location, as well as to customers of other local Whole Foods stores.
  • Zero emissions store: The store features six solar canopies that cover the parking lot, producing shade for cars and 25 per cent of the grocery store’s energy, as well as wind turbines. The store also features a grey/stormwater reuse system and a CO2 refrigeration system and was built with reclaimed and repurposed materials.
  • Speciality areas: The Gowanus store also has a large speciality section of artisan-produced, hand-cut cheeses, both local and from around the world, a Yuki Ramen bar, a made-to-order juice bar, an upscale coffee bar inside the store and knife-sharpening services from Christopher Harth of NYCutlery.
  • Haven for beer lovers: The store features a traditional beer section in addition to a rooftop bar that offers 15 different types of beer on tap with 25 more varieties in bottles. There is a growler station with 10 varieties of beer and 54-ounce jugs designed to store draught beer, as well as enormous selection of craft beers.

Whole Foods continues to lead in innovation within the grocery industry with the Gowanus store and has set a benchmark in redefining the meaning of local and green. The greenhouse fits well with Whole Foods’ efforts to deliver ‘green experiences’.

Brian Walker is founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group, an Ebeltoft member, and can be contacted on (02) 9460 2882 or

This article first appeared in our sister site, Inside Retail.

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