Retail Tomorrow : In Conversation with The Goods Mart Founder, Rachel Krupa

05-06-2022

How brands can think smarter, act faster and do better today for the retail landscape tomorrow.

In our newest content series, Interact dives into the retail landscape today to paint a picture of Retail Tomorrow. We sit down with shop owners, buyers and movers-and-shakers in the retail realm to hear what they think the future of retail holds and how brands need to show up in today’s omni-channel world. 

In Conversation with The Goods Mart Founder, Rachel Krupa

Rachel Krupa, Founder of The Goods Mart, a healthy convenience store with two locations in New York. 

In our first installment we chat with Rachel Krupa, founder of Krupa Consulting, a PR firm that works with restaurants and Better-For-You food brands. In 2016, Rachel launched The Goods Mart, a healthy convenience store with two locations in New York. 
The Goods Mart is a socially conscious convenience shop on a mission to improve the CPG industry, support emerging BFY brands and provide consumers with a superior snacking experience. The team at The Goods Mart (TGM), headed up by Rachel herself, focuses on creating a Better-For-You food journey, painstakingly seeking out products that taste great, make you feel good and do less harm to the environment. With a discerning eye on ensuring their assortment is sourced using quality ingredients and that their brands work to uphold ethical standards across the supply chain, The Goods Mart is making the experience of buying BYF foods a whole lot of fun. Interact sat down with Rachel to get her take on the future of retail.

Q: How do you think about your consumers?


A: Our customers are a central part of our retail; our space is intentionally built around the customer’s experience in store. Something great about The Goods Mart is that we get to be a discovery zone, a playground. We want to be the first to carry something and really partner with the customer on their journey – ultimately we want our customers to feel like they are part of the buying experience. They are the influence. We like to think about consumers as an integral part of the next wave of retail and to help them understand what they’re buying more than ever. That’s why we like to think of ourselves as our customers’ friends – we look at the community as a whole. We make a big effort to bring founders into the store and have them talk about their brands with customers. That interaction, that personal touch, makes the difference. It’s not something retailers are really thinking about today, and we recognize that consumers respond to this. We all need to feel connected. The Goods Mart is a place where people can come together. 

Q: What is your approach to the retail experience? 

Retail is broken –  it’s hard to start up as a brand. It’s prohibitively expensive to enter the CPG industry and compete, which is compounded by all the ways small brands can easily get taken advantage of. We want to do better by our brands. When I started TGM, I asked myself, How do we create an environment where everyone can benefit from partnering? All tides rise together. I want to build industry to the benefit of all. 

I grew up in the era of physical stores, gas stations, etc., and I’ve always loved the tactile experience, human interaction, the conversations you can overhear and things you can learn by being out in the world – insight you wouldn’t otherwise glean while buying online. The Goods Mart takes a local approach to our retail experience. Our team deeply knows the products and each person can speak firsthand about something – in that sense, our staff is really the face of the store and part of the retail experience. We value education, but approach it in a way that makes our customers feel they are talking to someone they know and trust. 

We’re also fortunate to have small stores (approx. 500 sq. ft.), so there is real conversation and deeper interaction. There is a lot of intention behind our small footprints – we are building a community, making sure all stakeholders are considered to keep that community feel alive and present in the shop experience. We are focused on transparency and see a real opportunity to help the consumer understand everything that’s available and why it’s there versus being overwhelmed by the assortment. We want the experience to be inviting and engaging. We create collections of snacks and discovery zones that can feel like a treasure hunt. This makes curation in the shops feel more intentional and gives customers the chance to ask questions that deepen their sensory experience. The sensory experience is so important, especially for food brands, and we want people to be able to tap into all the senses while testing out new products and brands. We want to transport you back to your past with a nostalgic candy bar or to another continent with a uniquely flavored beverage all for a lower price than you’d find at our competitors.

Q: What about a brand first draws you in?

A: The basics are simple, we first look for products that are non-GMO and have no artificial flavors or preservatives. From there we look at the branding, assortment and the backstory. Is there an interesting history behind the flavor profiles? Does it feel nostalgic? Does it transport me to another country? Does it make me think about the environment? I think a lot about why the consumer would want this product, how it will make them feel. I believe retailers need to do the work to find what’s new and interesting.

For example, I recently came across Torie & Howard, a BFY gummies brand that started with a take on Starburst and now just launched a BFY Skittles (Gummi-snaps). The founder really nailed it – I love candy, and I’m always looking for better versions of childhood staples. It was love at first taste for the Gummi-snaps; they perfected the candy coatings with the soft, chewy inside.

Of course, we always need to take product price points into account. Because it can often be expensive to go through distributors, we do the extra legwork to work directly with a lot of brands in an effort to maintain an affordable, yet interesting and exciting product assortment.

Q: How do you future-proof your product assortment?

A: It’s a continual conversation. How do you build sustainable relationships and inventory? 

For us, it’s part of the puzzle for emerging brands – we help to work out the kinks with brands before they expand – we want to help launch brands, finding new ways to allow brands to start small and help them grow wide. We’re focused on getting brands in front of buyers, helping customers discover and love new things. We know at some point they’re going to graduate from  us, and we will bring something else in, and that’s ok. That’s part of the process and the goal. We want to be part of that first stage, the “I knew them when” phase. I like to think of it as The Goods Mart incubating cool brands. We want to be a platform for sustained growth.