Foxtrot Market, a Chicago-based convenience store chain that combines digital and in-store shopping in one experience, is growing. Foxtrot currently has 13 locations in Chicago, Dallas and Washington DC, and will add 50 over the next two years. The stores will be located in New York, Austin, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles and Houston. In addition, private label offers will be expanded and a new 5-minute withdrawal service will be launched.
Foxtrot founder and CEO Mike LaVitola is optimistic about growth. He thinks Foxtrot, a mix of convenience store, coffee shop, and shopping destination, is “what the future of convenience looks like.” Initially we were only online, and when we opened the west loop [Chicago] shop in 2015, we became more than a delivery app. We’ve worked hard to find out what consumers want in their neighborhood and what they want in terms of convenience. Currently, half of our transactions are done online and the other half in store. And these are the same people who shop in both. There is no division between the online customer and the retail customer.
Foxtrot leads the pack of innovative convenience store chains launched in recent years, such as The Goods Mart and Go puff, which combine a virtual and physical experience. The Goods Mart is focused on discovery, offering a curated selection of brands focused on health, sustainability and wellness. On the other end of the spectrum, Go Puff focuses on hyper-convenience, delivering nationwide in under 30 minutes. Foxtrot sits somewhere in between, offering old-fashioned brands like Oreos alongside Tache Pistachio Milk and AshaPops water lily puffs.
In addition to the expansion of the number of stores, the footprint of Foxtrot stores will increase. According to LaVitola, when Foxtrot launched, the focus was on delivery. The first stores occupied less than 2,000 square feet. By observing his customers and how they shop, he realized there was an opportunity to make Foxtrot a destination. He brought in the former Starbucks executive Sumi god to join the team as COO earlier this year.
LaVitola says, “We weren’t expecting to have a bustling cafe in the morning, a destination for lunch, and a wine bar in the evening. This is how our clients used the space, but we were not prepared for it. Now that we have had a few years to see how we adapt to the daily rhythms of our customers, we want to design our store spaces around that. This means more square feet. According to the professional association NACS, the average convenience store measures approximately 2,400 square feet.
Foxtrot is known for its mix of eclectic merchandising and its focus on “booming” local brands. Last year, it launched a range of private label offerings. LaVitola says 34% of sales are private labels in 2021, up from 15% in 2020. The mix includes wine, fries and a new line of ice cream. He says stores will continue to offer a mix of independent and traditional brands alongside private labels, sharing, “Our vision is not to be Trader Joe’s. The cornerstone of our business is telling the stories of our brands.