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Building community, serving customer key to Lucky's MarketBuilding community, serving customer key to Lucky's Market

After a decade in Boulder, Colo., Lucky's Market is growing—with a second location in Longmont, Colo., and as a part of a larger vision under a separate brand, Lucky's Farmers Market. Bo Sharon talks here about the Lucky's way of doing business.

Christine Kapperman

August 14, 2013

4 Min Read
Building community, serving customer key to Lucky's Market

To Bo Sharon, the grocery business is only natural—in management philosophy and food (mostly).

“I believe we know our customer,” Sharon said as he introduced the second Lucky’s Market in Boulder County, Colo., during its soft opening Aug. 13. “The local and organic industry is bursting, but we still remember where we came from.”

And this includes roasting Jet-Puffed Marshmallows over a campfire, drinking a classic (or better yet Diet) Coke and cooking with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup.

“It’s what you need for age-old casserole recipes that can’t be substituted and shouldn’t be substituted,” he said.

The Lucky’s Market cachet may extend from the grocer’s support of local foods (even managing its own farm) and giving small natural brands big breaks, but for Sharon, it’s all about building community in a neighborhood grocery store.

“We’re humble, we don’t judge,” he said. “You need to empower your customers and they’ll choose.”

See a collection of pictures showcasing the new Lucky’s Market in Longmont, Colo.

So customers in Longmont will find local and organic produce at conventional prices. And in the center store, they’ll find a unique approach that blends natural and organic offerings with a smattering of iconic American brands. A couple gallons of Viva milk sit in the cooler surrounded by various natural and organic options. Below several shelves of Blue Sky soda, Lucky’s offers a handful of Coke products by the case. In the snack aisle, customers can choose from the explosion of natural snacks or find Lay’s potato chips, Fritos and Sun Chips interspersed on the bottom two shelves. The philosophy follows in cereal, baking, ethnic and condiment sets.

For Sharon, it’s not about building business, it’s about building community. He pointed to a customer walking past the umbrella-covered red picnic tables to one of the store’s two entrances. “We’re a community grocery store where she can feel comfortable, she can feel a part of the community. Our number one goal is to deliver products she wants.”

The keys: Listening and caring. “You have to care to succeed,” Sharon said, “and have the knowledge to put it into action quickly.”

The 26,000-square-foot Longmont location covers about twice the footprint of the store located in the city of Boulder. Primary product selections remain the same, but the larger store allows double facing. Highlights of the plaza redevelopment location include:

  • A produce department that begins outside of an open entry.

  • A sizeable selection of locally grown flowers.

  • A meat department that “practices the true art of butchery.” In addition to traditional meat offerings, Lucky’s creates a lot on site: marinades, bacon, pastrami and ham, smoked turkey and several sausages.

  • Many packaged foods prepared on site presented along hot-foods and olive bars.

  • Pizza ovens to cook up natural pizzas, including sausage and pepperoni made in the store.

  • A natural living section that includes 275 new private labels products along with traditional natural supplement brands and conventional products, such as Advil and Band-Aid selections. An end-cap-size stand offers working space for staff who will always be on hand in this department.

  • A nutritionist staffed at all times for one-on-one customer consultations.

  • A 4,000-square-foot wine, beer and spirits store, again with a great local presence from the state’s well-known microbrewery scene.

Sharon describes himself as a food guy not a numbers man. “We’re food freaks, that’s the point of differentiation,” he said.

But business acumen adds up, as he partnered this year with natural retail leader Patrick Gilliland (formerly of Wild Oats Markets and Sunflower Farmers Market) to build a new Midwest chain called Lucky’s Farmers Market. The first store under this brand is set to open in Columbus, Ohio, in October. Plans also exist for locations in Louisville, Ky., Billings and Bozeman, Mont., and Columbia, Mo.

The vision: building local community in a national way. Part of this recipe includes blending the emotion and community of food. Sharon talked wistfully about cooking and coming together around the table.

“You remember great meals and remember great food, put it together and you have Lucky’s.”

About the Author(s)

Christine Kapperman

Senior Content Director, New Hope Network

As the senior content director at New Hope Network, Christine Kapperman combines her 20-year journalism background with her passion for business to cover the natural products industry for newhope.com and Natural Foods Merchandiser magazine. She also led content at worldteanews.com. She loves tracking (and tasting) trends as she shares what’s next to show up in cups, plates and in pantries across the United States.

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