There’s an old saying that everything is bigger in Texas. That also goes for a brainstorm by Brothers Lane LLC that resulted in a micro-grocery store the company plans to open this fall in Austin.
“We want to bring back the concept of the neighborhood store, and not a convenience store with a lot of unhealthy junk,” said Christian Lane, partner in a unique company that also includes an information technology consulting firm and a photography business.
In.gredients will be about the size of a convenience store at 1,500 square feet, but what Brothers Lane plans to sell will be very different from what a shopper would find in a typical 7-Eleven. Lane and his partners, including brothers Patrick and Joseph, aim to own the nation’s first package-free, zero-waste grocery store.
They plan to reach those goals, in part, by limiting their offerings to local products and selling virtually everything in bulk.
That means shoppers will bring their own reusable containers — if they don’t, the store provides compostable containers — and get used to going without some items such as bananas and pineapples, for instance.
“It’s going to be a philosophical change for some customers,” said marketing manager Brian Nunnery. “They will have to adjust from having apples in June to the importance of eating seasonally from a waste perspective. The apples people were eating here in June used a lot of energy to get here.”
Lane said the company hasn’t yet settled on its definition, or limitations, of local produce.
“The goal is that everything will definitely be from within Texas, ideally from Travis County or surrounding counties,” he said. “There are a lot of growers in this county that can supply us.”
Lane acknowledged that to get products such as oranges or grapefruit, In.gredients will have to source from longer distances in the Lone Star State.
“Texas is a big footprint,” he said, “but it’s still a lot closer than California or Florida. We want to be clear with our customers about where stuff is coming from.”
Lane said the store would devote a few hundred square feet to produce.
“We’re going for density,” said Lane, who added that bulk produce fits nicely with the store’s package-free concept.
Despite space limitations, Lane thinks the store can be a one-stop shop for customers who buy into its sustainable concept.
“We’re trying to get back to the basics,” he said. “There are a lot of things people think they need that they don’t really need, and I think more consumers are becoming aware of that and are trying to get to zero waste. Whether it’s soap, flour, spices or produce, I think we will have every aspect of what consumers need.”
Brothers Lane is selling shares in the store and already is receiving requests for franchising information. The brothers are interested in opening additional stores, particularly in underserved areas, in the future, Lane said.
“The response,” he said, “has been very promising and very positive.”