May 9, 2022 - Food and Drink

An all-curbside supermarket without the glitches

Illustration of a grocery bag and food graphic on asphalt.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

While some people love strolling the food store aisles, others hate it.

  • For that latter group, entrepreneur Mike Sayles launched Fresh Street, a new app-driven supermarket that's all curbside, all the time.

Why it matters: Some folks got really into curbside groceries during the pandemic, but drawbacks like weird substitutions and fees make it hard to rely on.

Details: The store offers more than 5,000 products, including organic, local and international foods, from fish sauce and miso to oat milk and Milk & Honey granola.

How it works: Without in-store shoppers randomly grabbing stuff, Sayles says Fresh Street can keep track of inventory in real time and only offer what's in stock — thus no last-minute substitutions.

  • He says he keeps prices low by operating a warehouse instead of a snazzy customer-facing store.
  • And by using data to identify the most popular items, the store can make the most of its space in a former Lincolnwood Dress Barn store.

The intrigue: The business model is centered around families with a car but not much time; it's not about competing with urban delivery services like Getir or Gopuff.

What they're saying: "Once you have kids … and you’re running around to soccer practice, ballet, etc., grocery shopping becomes much more of a chore than an experiential treat," Sayles tells Axios.

  • "We want to offer these families a seamless experience and broad enough assortment that they should never need to go inside a grocery store."
store in a strip mall
Fresh Street customers order online and pick up in this parking lot at Lincoln and McCormick. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

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