FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — This year marks the 100th birthday of the self-service grocery store, which evolved into the supermarket — but is there anything to celebrate?
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff explained, experts say traditional supermarkets will have to change to survive.
Fresh produce, dairy, and meat from local farms and ranches now makes its way directly into the hands of customers through Our Harvest, a farm to table service that cuts out the middle man.
And at Long Island’s first Stew Leonard’s most of what is sold at the massive, new Farmingdale store is made fresh.
“There’s not a lot of artificial ingredients that people have to go crazy reading the label about,” Dan Arthur explained.
The farm fresh grocer is expanding as traditional supermarkets vanish.
A&P closed or sold nearly 300 stores last year including Pathmarks and Waldbaums, while specialty food stores and internet delivery services thrived thanks to changing tastes and lifestyles.
“I think those big box stores can’t compete with the fresh produce and locally grown stuff,” Dr. Barry Berman said, “It’s a troubled industry. An industry in which the strong will survive and the weak will perish.”
Berman said organic and buy local movements have gone mainstream to drive the seismic shift.
“It’s no longer a niche market, it’s now a market segment to be reckoned with,” Berman said.
The trend has left some communities underserved.
“We buy in bulk, but I’m only a family of four. We are not going to eat all this food, but we have no choice,” one shopper explained.
Healthy does not mean costly, a Whole Foods spokesman explained.
“Bring Whole Foods market, healthy food options, natural food options to neighborhoods that don’t have them currently,” the spokesman said.
Stop And Shop which bought up many of the closed supermarkets told CBS2 the industry is evolving quickly and they’re evolving along with more locally grown and organic produce, delivery and pick up services.
Retail experts said supermarkets that don’t evolve could face extinction.
On Thursday, Stew Leonard’s announced their second Long Island location in East Meadow, it’s expected to open next year.