After numerous delays, gourmet grocery store Oakville Grocery opened its doors last Thursday, bringing another shopping destination to the increasingly full CityScape complex in downtown Phoenix.
Rob Haugen, an employee at the CityScape location, called the store a unique combination of a gourmet grocery store, coffee shop, wine bar, deli and restaurant, which provide vegan and vegetarian-friendly options, as well as gluten-free items.
“We try our best to listen to our customers,” Haugen said, adding that the store would consider carrying items upon customer request.
Haugen attributed the store’s multiple delayed openings to construction and time needed for passing various inspections including electrical use and plumbing. The store was originally slated to open in November of last year but was pushed back several times before opening last week.
David Roderique, president of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, said CityScape owners had to approach grocery-store chains and suggest opening a location downtown.
Even though downtown Phoenix is adding residents, stores showed reluctance because the area is an untested market, Roderique said.
“Historically, (downtown Phoenix) hasn’t been a strong market for grocery stores,” Roderique said. “It’s not the type of place you’d find a Safeway or a Fry’s.”
But Haugen expressed optimism about the future of the store and said he welcomed the challenge of running a grocery store in an urban setting.
“I think we’ll do very well. Today’s students are very health conscience,” said Haugen. “There’s such a new vibe downtown and we wanted to be a part of it.”
Haugen said Oakville Grocery has been doing well since the opening, adding that he is excited to have the store be a part of the growing CityScape economy, considering the successes of Lucky Strike Lanes and Urban Outfitters, along with a hotel expected to open later this year.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the success of a downtown grocery store, Roderique said Downtown Phoenix Partnership had been pushing to get one.
“A key component is people want easy access,” Roderique said. “They don’t want to get in their car and drive three to four miles.”
Haugen echoed the same sentiment and said people would appreciate the convenience of a grocery store in the heart of the city.
Oakville Grocery will not be offering specific discounts for students, but will have a VIP card system similar to Fry’s or Safeway.
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Correction: July 7, 2011
An earlier version of this article inaccurately labeled Rob Haugen as the store manager of the new Oakville Grocery location at CityScape. Haugen is an employee.