Lucky’s currently has six stores open, four openings announced this year, and plans to open six to 10 stores a year over the next several years. Stores range from the Boulder headquarters to Columbus, Ohio, in the east.
The chain has found a niche in the fast-growing small- to mid-size retail format populated by stores like Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market and The Fresh Market, Greensboro, N.C.
What these retailers have in common isn’t in the cereal aisle.
“Produce is king,” says Patrick Mills, director of produce, during a recent visit to the company’s Columbia location, which opened in the winter. The produce department even starts before you get in the store, with signature garage doors leading shoppers into the farmers market atmosphere of the department.
I took time with Patrick to talk about Lucky’s strategy, and after a tour of the Columbia store, I’m getting a feeling that being with Lucky’s is just that. From the fun, innovative atmosphere to a corporate culture encouraging community service, it’s a dream job.
Can you give me a brief overview of Lucky’s — history, management/leadership/growth over the past year/plans for expansion? Why have you chosen the areas you have for future stores?
Lucky’s Market was started by Bo and Trish Sharon just over a decade ago in Boulder, Colo. They built a great niche and became Boulder’s leading independent grocer. Within the last couple of years, Bo and Trish decided to build the business and take their simple, fun concept nationally. We are expanding throughout the Midwest, and even chose some locations in the Montana and Wyoming areas to complement our Colorado stores.
Lucky’s fits into a rapidly-growing, very successful niche of the small-to-mid-size “premium, natural and/or organic” format. Why do you think this format of store is gaining popularity with consumers?
Our guests care more than ever about where their food is coming from. They also want a company that’s supportive but not preachy, and which offers the quality, local and organic foods they want, but while also carrying favorite national brands their families love. From cucumbers to cupcakes, we do what we can to create the ultimate, fun shopping experience for our guests.