In the five years that Anuj Gupta has served as general manager at Reading Terminal Market, there has been no shortage of new grocery stores to provide what amounts to an onslaught of competition.
Trader Joe’s opened a block away and Mom’s Organic Market two blocks away. Sprouts Farmers Market put a stake on South Broad Street. Giant rolled out four of its Heirloom Markets and has plans for a two-story extravaganza at 23rd and Market streets. And, Whole Foods, well, it got bought by Amazon, which has plans to expand its grocery business.
“We have seen the arrival of competition for the market,” Gupta said. “The fundamentals of fresh food retail has changed dramatically.”
Even America’s largest and oldest — established in 1893 — public market has to keep reinventing itself as competition from new grocery stores increases in the city and throughout the region. It’s not just traditional grocers that are vying for shoppers and funneling sales from Reading Terminal, but other retailers such as Target, Wawa and farmers markets that operate year round are also in the mix. And, then there’s prepared foods. Billed as convenient and nutritious, they are also nipping into Reading Terminal’s $60 million in annual sales.
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Gupta and his team have been not been complacent when it comes to staying ahead of the competition but at the same time, remain true to its roots as a market filled with fresh produce and family-owned and operated purveyors. “When we say we are a market, we are a market and not a glorified food hall,” Gupta said. “The minute we lose that, we stop serving our primary mission, which is to be a food market.”
To read more about Reading Terminal Market's attempt to combat competition from other grocers, visit PBJ.com.
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