Monday, March 2, 2009

Paradise in Pacheco

Good news week continues with the announcement that Paradise Foods will open it's second Marin store at Pacheco Plaza later this year. Paradise, aka "Marin's most extraordinary market", has a strong following at it's existing store in Corte Madera, which opened in 2001, where the gourmet selection includes a large range of prepared meals, pre-cooked in the store's kitchen.

According to the Marin IJ, Pacheco Plaza owner John Kieckhefer chose Paradise Foods over other potential tenants because customers wanted a gourmet grocer. Said Paradise Foods' Mel Gilmour:

"We had looked at other sites a while ago, then decided we weren't going to expand," Mel Gilmour said. "But when that one became available we felt like it was a good location for us. It's a market we could do well in. We see it as a good fit with the whole place being redeveloped and fixed up."
So is this an inspired move by Paradise Foods, opening their second store in an established center, far enough from their existing store not to compete, but in a region where they already have some knowledge of the market and where they have a good reputation?

Or is it a risky adventure, choosing to expand at a time when most retailers are cutting back their plans for new stores, and going head to head with a new full-range Safeway store and with the prospect of a new Whole Foods opening in downtown Novato?

The huge risk that I see is in the customer demographics. Gourmet markets like Paradise Foods, Mollie Stones, and Woodlands require affluent consumers, and there aren't as many of these in Northern Marin. Average incomes in Novato were $82,000 in 1999, compared to $112,000 in Corte Madera and $200,000 in Tiburon.

Affluent consumers do exist in Novato (2,077 households in Novato had incomes above $150,000 in 1999, compared with just 1,438 households in Tiburon), so there is potential demand for an up-market grocer. But can Paradise Foods get those Novato customers to drive past Whole Foods to visit their store in Ignacio? That, I think, will be difficult.

*update: news release

No comments: