Late last month, Schnuck Markets premiered a new specialty store called EatWell, A Natural Food Store by Schnucks — a concept that Chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck said had been in the making for some time.
The opportunity came when a store lease for Lucky’s Market, which was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, went up for auction in Columbia, Mo. The site at 111 South Providence Rd. not only offered an attractive customer demographic — adjacent to the University of Missouri’s flagship campus — but Schnucks also already operated a supermarket in Columbia less than three miles away. So the St. Louis-based grocer acquired the leased store at the end of March.
“We thought that, ‘Here’s a real opportunity for us to step right into operating a natural food store,’” Schnuck told Supermarket News in a podcast interview. “And we liked Columbia because it’s a university town and already had an established customer base. So we thought it was a great way for us to take that first step.”
That site, too, just happened to be the previous location of the current Schnucks supermarket now at 1400 Forum Blvd. in Columbia.
“We’ve been in the Columbia market for over 50 years. Interestingly enough, this location is in the same shopping center where our original [Columbia] store was located. We opened in 1970, and then later we closed that store and moved to a bigger store about two miles away,” Schnuck said. “So we’re coming full circle, back to a location that’s closer to the university, closer to the student population and closer to the downtown area of Columbia.”
The 42,000-square-foot EatWell store, opened June 24, caters to consumers prioritizing health and wellness, natural and organic foods, and — as Schnucks says — “the occasional splurge.” Besides a mix of better-for-you and locally sourced products, EatWell offers customers an array of prepared foods and beverages — including through service counters — that can be taken home or enjoyed on-site as they shop.
Departments and services in EatWell include bakery, bulk foods, a café, a cheese shop, dairy, deli, floral, frozen foods, grocery, liquor, meat and seafood, natural living, produce, seafood, a sushi & ramen bar, pizza, made-to-order sandwiches and seafood cooked in-store.
Among the EatWell store’s highlights are grass-fed beef, sustainable seafood and deli meat that’s fresh-roasted in the store. Also, customers shopping at the store can drink a local draft beer, root beer, kombucha, glass of wine or beverage whipped up by the on-site barista.
“Experimenting and trying new things is really in our DNA,” Schnuck said.