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Grocery Chain Giant To Take The Urban Grocery Trend Even Smaller

In order to both penetrate deeper into urban markets and integrate further with e-commerce, grocery chain Giant is going small.

A Giant grocery store in the Philadelphia suburb of Wynnewood, Pa.

The chain, a subsidiary of international conglomerate Ahold Delhaize with 171 locations, will open a 9,800 SF location called Giant Heirloom Market in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood within greater Center City, Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports.

The tiny footprint is a logical continuation of retailers' drive to get closer to urban shoppers by adapting to the relative lack of space on city streets. But Target's foray into the arena, Target Express, averages between 20K and 40K SF, and leaner stores like Trader Joe's and Aldi tend to bottom out at 13K SF, according to RetailWire.

Giant Heirloom Market is not Ahold Delhaize's first attempt at a micro-grocery store, even within Philadelphia. The company opened Everything Fresh, even smaller at 3,700 SF, right in the heart of Center City in 2015. The next year, it began to roll out a similar concept called Bfresh in Massachusetts. Ahold, which also owns the Food Lion and Stop & Shop brands, planned to open more Bfresh locations in Philadelphia in 2017, but abruptly reversed course on that plan, closing Everything Fresh and all of its Bfresh locations by the end of the year.

Ahold retained the leases on the three locations it had in mind for Bfresh, and one of those locations will become Giant Heirloom Market. Rather than a rerun of its previous concepts, the store will have new wrinkles that are meant to capitalize on technological advancements and experiential retail trends.

A produce chef will be one of the projected 60 employees at the store, there to prepare fruit and vegetables on demand for customers. Other employees will also be equipped with iPads to use Giant's online delivery platform Peapod for ordering additional items not available in-store for delivery or pickup, RetailWire reports.

Giant is reportedly planning additional Heirloom Markets in Philadelphia, likely in locations the company still has on leases meant for Everything Fresh and Bfresh. From there, the Prince George's County-based company hopes the concept will catch on.