STORE SPACES

Another retailer expands to fill Toys “R” Us void

BY Marianne Wilson

Go! Retail Group is hoping to attract more holiday toy shoppers this year.

Go! Retail, the largest pop-up retailer of calendars, toys and games in the U.S., has launched a new “Toys Express” concept in 13 former Toys “R” Us Express locations across the country. The toy destinations are part of the more than 750 stores that Go! Retail willl operate this holiday season. (The total also includes 80 year-round stores in malls and outlet centers.”

In addition, Go! Retail will expand toy and game stores to more than 400 of its locations.

“With the change in the retail landscape this year, Go! Retail Group is excited to expand our toy and game business to meet the needs of consumers nationwide,” said Marc Winkelman, CEO. “2018 is our 26thyear of operating pop-up stores. In partnership with our vendors and shopping center developers, Go! is uniquely positioned to expand our successful toy and game business to new locations.”

Go! Retail is the largest operator of pop-up stores in the world, with operations in six countries. The business started with calendars and has since grown up to include toys, games, t-shirts and books. Additionally, Go! owns and operates Fuego and Attic Salt, hipster brands that give a nod to the company’s hometown of  Austin, Texas.

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STORE SPACES

Giant Food Stores to launch new store concept

BY Marianne Wilson

Giant Food Stores is going urban — and smaller.

The 95-year-old supermarket company will debut a new store concept and banner, “Giant Heirloom Market,” designed for urban neighborhoods. The first location will open later this year, in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood of Philadelphia.

Giant has had a presence in Philadelphia since 2011, but the Heirloom Market store will be its first in the downtown area. The location is the first of several stores planned for the city.

The new store will be about 9,500 sq. ft., with a modern environment and an assortment of high-quality, fresh, seasonal, and flavor-focused foods and everyday essentials. Special features will include a “produce chef” who will prepare veggies and fruit on demand, local artisanal breads, and a vast array of plant-based foods. Also on the menu: sampling and demonstration. In addition, if customers need something that is not carried in the store, associates will help guide them to in-store iPads to order online.

The Heirloom Market format will harken back to the original Giant Market concept in its mission to bring innovation and modernity through a store experience that meets the unique needs of the neighborhoods it serves, Giant said.

“From featuring products made locally to being staffed by people who call the neighborhood home, Giant Heirloom Market is a true reflection of the surrounding community, and we can’t wait to see our shared vision come to life in just a few short months,” said Nicholas Bertram, president, Giant Food Stores, which has more than 170 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

The new concept comes after more than a year of intense neighborhood group listening sessions, market research, and format exploration. In addition, Giant searched nationally and globally for solutions, even going to Amsterdam, a city known for its innovative, small grocery stores, to find a format that would satisfy the community. Back home, Giant said it scoured Philadelphia for local purveyors who could help them deliver on the promise of a “neighborhood grocery store built by its neighbors.”

“Philadelphia is a natural choice for us to debut our new Giant Heirloom Market format, as we’re able to draw upon our passion for food and our fondness for local purveyors, all while leveraging innovation to bring something special to our new Graduate Hospital neighbors,” said Bertram.

Giant Food Stores is based in Carlisle, Pa., and is owned by Ahold Delhaize.

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Look who is scrubbing the floors at Walmart

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart is using technology to free up its store associates from a time-consuming maintenance task.

The discount giant will roll out an automated floor cleaner (dubbed Auto-C) that works similar to a self-driving car. The machine, which resembles a mini-robot, uses assisted autonomy technology to clean and polish floors.

To date, Walmart has deployed the technology in 78 stores, and will be rolling it out to some 360 additional locations soon. The retailer noted that the technology will give Walmart associates more time to serve customers. Under the current system, a Walmart associate in each of its U.S. stores drives a floor scrubber for two hours daily.

“The Auto-C is still pretty young and needs adult supervision (an associate has to prep the area and map the machine’s route), but we’re excited about the role it will play … in Walmart’s technology ecosystem,” the company stated in a blog post.

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