Suggestions for Urban Market

A lot has been made about the recent changes to Urbanmarket with respect to the downsizing of the store and rumors that the store may close. Keep in mind that I am referring to the downtown location, not the one in the Cedars.

For those of us that visit Urbanmarket, you know that the cafe has been closed and that reports indicate that the non-food offerings may be scaled back.

I think it’s a great concept and a business that is definitely needed for downtown to thrive.

While many have speculated on what the market needs to do to be more successful, I have found multiple suggestions among my blogging friends:

More after the jump.

1. Marketing. Several people I know work downtown and said they’ve never seen any info about the market at their offices, and most co-workers don’t know that it exists. I’ve also been to several high-rises downtown and none of the leasing agents mentioned Urbanmarket as an amenity. These two groups are your customer base and represent major dollars if catered to in a major way.

From a friend:

Well as good as Urban Market says its doing, they should do more to make themselves known to the apartment buildings downtown. Every time I’m in there it seems like every person walking out is going to the Power & Light Building or the Interurban building itself. I’d venture that there might be a good portion of people that live downtown in buildings north of Commerce that don’t know about the Grocery or have misconceptions about it.

They should institute an online ordering system. The store is slightly cumbersome to navigate because things are crammed wherever they can get 2 ft of shelf space and not easily found unless you ask or take time to search. The online ordering would be unique and truly make it a quick seamless process of shopping.

The bottom line is a majority of people don’t shop there that live downtown, and short of sitting in Pegasus square during downtown special events, the store does nothing to promote itself.

As far as advertising, I agree. I know of a person who just now found out Urban Market is in the downtown area. He has lived here for over a year.

(note: I did find that they offer a personal shopping service on their website)

2. Prices. While I don’t expect prices to be at the level of Target or Wal-Mart, several people I know shop at the 7-11 or CVS for many items because the price difference is significant between those stores and Urbanmarket.

A friend chimes in:

I have to say, I am not surprised they are struggling. Their service has always been lacking. CVS seems to be doing well and so does the 7-11. Urban Market’s price structure seems to have always been on the greedy side.

Lets take Horizon Milk for example – $4.69/carton? Lets compare it to Central Market (not Walmart).

CM price is $3.39 (UM is 38% higher – can you believe that?).

Even CVS which is not a grocery store, their price is $ 3.99 (UM is 17% higher) – Also downtown!

I think they are just bad at running a business. They opened in Southside and have just expanded their store to include an entire section for more beer and wine and now closing a similar section in the main store?

You can expect to pay 7% to 10% more in a store like UM, any more and people will learn to buy their groceries elsewhere – and they have.

3. New competition. Newflower Farmers Market opened in March in the old Carnival Space on Henderson, and while they are still working out the kinks they have cool things happening that keep you shopping. For example: on Wednesdays Newflower honors the new sales circular as well as the one from the previous week. I know that this is a different neighborhood but many downtown residents do have cars so this store is a viable option.

4. Selection. One blogging friend wrote the following:

I have to say their meat selection is bare boned sometimes nonexistent. The cuts of meat are either top sirloin or hefty priced Filet Mignon. To find a rib eye is rare. I shop at the market for the occasional dinners I cook.

I don’t bother with any menu planning because, in the past, I found they didn’t have everything I needed in stock. So…why is this? You can’t blame it all on the economy…we all need to eat, after all.

So either they are not pricing appropriately or not keeping adequate inventory…or both. As far as getting rid of the wine/beer/snacks and freezer section that doesn’t make any sense…period. They can’t say they don’t move those types of product. Now toiletries etc…maybe they can reduce some inventory.

I’d be willing to bet that someone is more likely to hop into the store to get a bottle of wine to take to a friend’s place or to go with their dinner vs stopping in to pick up some household cleaner or a bar of soap.

More thoughts:

The people there are nice, but the culture in Dallas does not fit that model, even Downtown. For some reason Downtown/Uptown residents prefer Albertsons and the Walmart Neighborhood Store.

However, the 7-11 model (while not a super market) is viable. There is a new 7-11 in my building open 24 hrs and they seem to be operating at a steady pace…. Read More

Since I’ve been in Dallas, “they’ve” been saving Urban Market – WHY? Let someone come in who can make money. Harsh words … but look at our Auto Industry. Let the market decide.

Why are there Bodegas on every corner in Brooklyn? Why are there so many Beauty Salons in Flatbush? because the market supports it.

Perhaps for the Cafe a Starbucks Business Model may work (isn’t it separate anyway?). The only thing I consistently go in that building for is the bank. I use the Dallas Federal Credit Union.

The Urban Market is convenient and is even within Walking distance from me … Yet I overlook it.

I didn’t write this piece to bash Urbanmarket. I ate there when it first opened and I have gone back from time to time. I wanted to offer suggestions from actual customers which might help the store.

I’m really rooting for this store to succeed. The resident base is growing downtown as well as the number of corporate relocations. If the store can hang on and make a few adjustments, success should be just around the corner.

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2 Responses to “Suggestions for Urban Market”

  1. Jeff Siegel Says:

    The other problem, Mike, is the chicken and egg one. There still aren't enough people living downtown to attract a quality retailer, which is needed to attract more customers, etc., etc. Hopefully, if and when the recession ends the real estate market improves, people will move downtown and we can get a quality retailer.

  2. Enrique Says:

    I live at South Side, and they have a satellite store here. Everytime I get bread, tortillas, fruits, vegetables or milk they go bad after two or three days. If you look at the "best by" or expiration date, it is always just a few days away. So that just doesn't work for me because I live alone and need food to last at least a week. So I drive to Walmart on I75 instead of shopping Urban Market (except for beer and wine).

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