CHANDLER, Ariz. — Bashas' here said last week it is considering possible expansion of its new natural and organics format, Ike's Farmer's Market, into the Phoenix area following the opening 10 days ago of the first Ike's in Oro Valley, near Tucson.
There are no specific plans to open additional locations, Alison Bendler, a Bashas' spokeswoman, told SN, though the regional chain is “looking at” potential sites for Ike's in Maricopa County, which encompasses Phoenix.
Sales during Ike's opening weekend were “much higher than expected,” Bendler said — the result of “curiosity and anticipation by people in the area,” she noted.
Customers could fill a complete shopping order at Ike's, but with so many specialized products, the store is more likely to be a destination location where consumers can buy more specialized products while doing the rest of their shopping at a more conventional supermarket, Bendler said.
The company had originally hoped to open the first Ike's last July at a shuttered Bashas' in Phoenix, Bendler pointed out, but when the landlord refused to approve the deal, the company switched to the alternate location in Oro Valley, 15 miles north of Tucson.
According to Jayson Mead, Bashas' special projects manager, Oro Valley is an area “where there are a lot of outdoor activities and healthy lifestyles, and where consumers tend to be well-educated and more affluent and are more likely to spend a larger part of their discretionary income on food.”
The store is named for Ike Basha, one of the chain's late co-founders, whose son, Johnny Basha, currently is the company's vice chairman.
Ike's is located in a 43,000-square-foot former Bashas' that was shut down in December for remodeling. The site will not serve as a prototype for future Ike's locations, however, Bendler pointed out.
“We worked within the existing structure of the store we converted, and we anticipate future stores will vary their look and size, depending on what's already there,” she explained.
Ike's features an all-new interior decor that utilizes 5-foot-high wire racks rather than conventional grocery shelving, and with aisles arranged at angles rather than front-to-back, “to give the store a more open, inviting, less structured look,” Bendler said.
Given the store's focus on fresh, close to one-third of floor space is devoted to the produce area, which is located in the center of the store — a layout Bashas' saw at Westborn Markets, a specialty operator with three stores based in Livonia, Mich., that is one of Bashas' “share group” partners, Mead told SN.
Most produce is displayed in orchard bins, with a large wet rack of greens at the center that runs 8 feet high, topped with mirrors to make it appear to be 12 feet high, Mead pointed out.
Although the 100 or so organic items are displayed on a single table, Ike's plans to integrate them into the conventional assortments during the summer months, “when they are at their best quality and the price is at its most attractive, to trade customers up to organics,” Mead said.
Near the front of the store on the right is Ike's Place, a lounge area for in-store dining or relaxation, featuring bistro-style tables and chairs plus large, overstuffed chairs and a sofa, a TV set, a popcorn-popping machine and free Wi-Fi Internet connection.
Also on the store's right side is Ike's Bakehouse, featuring self-service displays of baked goods, including preservative-free breads and other products free of trans fat or high-fructose corn syrup, plus options for diabetics and people on gluten-free diets, as well as a wide assortment of natural whole-grain breads and refrigerated sprouted-grain breads.
Adjacent to the bakery area is Ike's Good-to-Go, which encompasses a self-serve hot bar offering rotisserie chicken, ribs and other items cooked and pre-packaged at store level and sold by the pound; a soup bar with three varieties a day; a salad bar that features fresh-cut fruit in the morning and salads the rest of the day; and a refrigerated case with grab-and-go salads, sandwiches and cold soups.
Also on the right side of the store is Ike's Butcher Shop, a self-service meat counter with all-natural USDA Choice beef, pork and poultry, plus all-natural buffalo meat, as well as a full-service deli counter with cold salads, Boar's Head meats and cheeses and value-added meats. There's also an 8-foot seafood section.
At the rear of the store is Ike's Creamery, featuring packaged dairy items, eggs, yogurts and milk, and a frozen foods section.
In the left corner, near the back, is the store's pharmacy and a Medi-Min clinic — the fourth at Bashas' and the first in the Tucson market — along with Ike's Natural Choice, a section that includes vitamins, supplements, herbs, minerals and body care products; organic clothing; natural detergents, toiletries and makeup; and a computer station where consumers can get health and wellness information.
On the store's rear wall is a bulk foods section featuring 400 SKUs of herbs, grains, granolas, coffees, flours, chocolates and nuts, with machines available for customers to grind their own nut butter from peanuts, cashews or almonds, or grind their own coffee.
On the left side of the store is a 400-square-foot glassed-in area called Ike's Culinary Workshop, where the store will conduct cooking classes and health and wellness talks, Mead said.
Close by is Ike's Cork 'n Keg, which encompasses wines from around the nation and the world — including about 200 varieties “of smaller vintages, which is kind of a treasure-hunt area,” Mead said — and microbrew and imported beers.
Ike's Flower Spot is located at the front of the store on the left, near the six checkout lanes.