The Zoomin Market has taken the grocery store out of grocery shopping.
The model, based on online ordering and drive-through pickup of goods, opened its doors on April 9 in Olathe, Kan.
The market was founded by 20-year Kansas City grocery veteran John Yerkes, now chief executive officer of Zoomin Market, and warehouse management specialist Matt Rider, president.
Yerkes holds majority interest in the company, with several non-voting preferred shareholders also investing in the company, he said. The retailer has already opened, but an official grand opening for the Zoomin Market is set for April 27.
Customers can order online from a selection of what Yerkes said is a list of about 10,000 stock-keeping units. After ordering and paying online, customers can pick up groceries from 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
The Zoomin facility, formerly a Gambucci’s restaurant on 12203 Strang Line Road in Olathe, was renovated and expanded by nearly 4,000 square feet to accommodate four refrigeration zones and a loading dock.
In the first week or so since it was open, Zoomin Market registered about 2,000 new users, with each day’s sales beating the prior day.
“It is ahead of my projections right now,” he said. Yerkes said one mom using the service got out of her car, gave him a hug, and thanked him for giving her a place where she could shop without hauling her kids inside a grocery store.
Prices are similar to other grocery stores in the area, he said, and there is no charge or membership fee for the service.
Though the website is mobile friendly, there is no smart phone app developed yet for the market. Yerkes said that could come within the year. That app is expected to allow consumers to scan barcodes at home to transmit their order to Zoomin Market, he said.
Zoomin Market has about 27 employees, and Yerkes said the company is paying wages that are 20% to 30% more than the typical grocery store. Creating a new culture for the store has been fun, he said.
“We not only wanted to turn grocery on its head, we wanted to turn the traditional workforce environment in grocery on its head,” he said.
Yerkes said his first thought of the model was sparked with a Wall Street Journal article in 2010 about a company in France called Chronodrive that was finding big success with the online order and drive-up concept.
In 2012, Yerkes said his family’s grocery store business — Thriftway and Apple Market — was sold. After that, a lunch with a friend reignited his interest in the concept.
Kansas City, Kan.-based Associated Wholesale Grocers is the company’s main supplier of food, although Zoomin Market also works with Kansas City, Kan.-based Liberty Fruit and C & C Produce and Central Produce, both in Kansas City, Kan.
While the perception is that customers want to be able to pick out their own produce, Yerkes said quality control is high. He said Zoomin doesn’t sell bagged apples because they want to control the fruit quality they provide customers. The firm does offer bagged potatoes and other items.
Phil Pisciotta, owner of Fresh Food Express LLC, Kansas City, Mo., has served as a consultant to the store, training employees to handle and store fresh produce, including how to stage bananas.
If a customer purchases several apples, the fruit is delivered in a clear perforated zip lock bag, handpicked by an employee.
Yerkes said he hopes to eventually expand the number of Zoomin Market stores. Yerkes said the company is considering adding local produce as an option.