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Knowing Your Shopper

Burlington, Vt.’s City Market knows its shopper base well and does a fantastic job at giving them what they want.


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I recently went to visit a friend in Burlington, Vt. and was super impressed by their local grocery store, which is also the state's only community-owned cooperative supermarket. The first thing I noticed when walking into the City Market was a sign outside promoting a Free Fruit for Kids program in which children receive a free banana whenever they come to the grocery store.

The produce section was expansive, containing plenty of organic options and several herbs I had never even heard of. The bulk bins were also plentiful and offered everything from quinoa to seaweed. In true Burlington form, there is a kombucha station that also offers reverse-osmosis water and a large fridge filled with Cabot cheeses.

By far my favorite part of the food store was the hot food bar, which rotates daily. My friend and I got lunch there a few times during my visit and there was always something new and delicious to try, like a feta orzo salad and green pea risotto. There was also a sandwich counter that looked really good.

My takeaway from my visit to City Market was that the retailer really knows its customer base. Vermont has a very healthy and active vibe, and this retailer did a wonderful job catering to that lifestyle and also stocking local items. Kombucha stations and an entire cooler filled with Cabot cheese might not work for every retailer’s shoppers, but City Market is a great inspiration on how to really connect with local consumers and anticipate their needs.

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