April 07, 2021 at 05:07PM

As many investors turn their focus to the abundance of digital-native grocers emerging to fill the rising demand for online grocery, one new brick-and-mortar grocery store is asserting its own vision of grocery’s future. Dom’s Kitchen & Market, a “new concept built upon grocery legacy and neighborhood service with a focus on the experiential love of food,” recently secured $15 million in seed funding, bringing its total funding to $25 million, reports Grocery Dive.

In addition to traditional grocery aisles, Dom’s stores will feature coffee kiosks, bakeries and kitchens that prepare ready-to-eat meals. The first location will open in June at 2730 N. Halsted Street in Chicago. The company, founded by a group of Chicago’s veteran grocery executives, plans to use the funding “to accelerate future store openings as well as further develop the eCommerce platform for mobile ordering, loyalty programs and curbside pickup,” according to a news release announcing the fundraise.

The store will offer “locally sourced, globally inspired and seasonally driven items.” This focus on local has been top of mind for many consumers for some time now, but it has grown even more urgent in the last year as consumers watched the economic impacts of 2020 devastate neighborhood businesses, with most of the closed stores reporting that they will not be able to reopen after the pandemic. Now, larger companies have been turning their focus to small, local businesses to attract community-minded consumers. For instance, e-grocers at home and abroad have been stocking their online shelves with local merchants, combining their future-minded model with the enduring appeal of neighborhood businesses.

This will likely prove to be a popular approach — a Mastercard survey from October of 2020 found that 77 percent of consumers plan to shop more locally going forward, and 75 percent plan to shop at businesses that align with their values. Additionally, offering local options can drive higher spending, with consumers willing to pay a premium to support their neighbors.

For its part, Dom’s describes itself as “your neighborhood table, your local grocery store, your favorite coffee spot, your florist down the street, your new watering hole. And more.” It is worth noting, given this focus on local-mindedness and community connection, that the company has already been receiving negative feedback from local residents. Though the store is not yet available on most consumer reviewing platforms, it has already, in the week that the store profile has been available, received multiple negative Google reviews from Chicagoans who are concerned about the impact it will have on the community — reviews that have been upvoted by other city residents.

Still, the store’s focus on providing an omnichannel experience, pairing its brick-and-mortar space with comprehensive eCommerce options, will likely appeal to many consumers in the coming years. PYMNTS research has found that 79 percent of consumers still grocery shop in physical stores, while 23 percent are shopping for groceries online more than they were before the pandemic. By combining its community-centric store design — which may be very attractive to consumers looking to reestablish a sense of neighborhood connection after the mass isolation of the past 13 months — with safe and convenient online ordering options, the store may be able to secure its customer base by engaging with them across channels.

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