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The journey to perma PUG

My absolute favorite thing to do when I travel is visit grocery stores. A city reveals itself in the items on the shelves of its local purveyors—its diet, its culture, its sense of humor. And there’s a specific type of joy reserved for discovering a certain package or flavor for the very first time. It’s a combination of elation, curiosity, and enthusiasm—hope, even, for the possibility that there’s so much left in life to uncover. I just love the experience of it all. 

Image Credit: Ori Harpaz

In late 2018, I wondered: why wasn’t there a store built with this experience in mind, to encourage this very behavior and these very feelings? And if someone were to create it, why couldn’t it be me? So, I got to work. I envisioned a space filled with the very best—only—of the newest products on offer. Those, specifically, that you may be inspired by in the feeds of your phone, but haven’t yet seen IRL. Those that make you feel ~good~. I imagined it would be bright and colorful and welcoming—not any place that could be described as mundane, minimal, or exclusive. It wouldn’t be precious, but ~fun~. April 2019 marked the opening of the very first Pop Up Grocer, a 10-day experiment in the heart of downtown Manhattan. From there, eight 30-day, memorable stores across the country—from Chicago to Denver, CO and many places in between.  

There’s a specific type of joy reserved for discovering a certain package or flavor for the very first time.

Why pop-ups? Well, initially, because I had no money or sense of commitment to the project. Lol, but really. And later, because they were just the thing that would allow us to do what we intended, in cities nationwide. The idea was that we could scoot in and scoot out, providing a place of excitement for our visitors, and an opportunity for exposure and visibility for the emerging brands we serve. Once we left, everyone could shop—in a more direct sense—those they’d found, and do so from the comfort of their homes or convenience of nearby retailers. 

Now, we are embarking upon the opening of our very first permanent location. This space will allow us to be all we initially envisioned and all we’ve been over the last 4 years, but more reliably. Plus, it will have a café that will play host to a rotation of coffee providers and bakers. Inside, at any given time, you’ll find more than 130 brands, with 400+ products that have been carefully and meticulously selected—though, our criteria are simple: 1) interesting 2) responsible, and 3) design-conscious (packaging is an important part of the experience!).

Image Credit: Ori Harpaz

I can’t express how meaningful this milestone is—years, or maybe a lifetime, in the making. Thank you for being a part of it, and I sincerely hope you’ll say hello when you step in (please bring a dog or baby!). X

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