We were meeting with a customer last week in Cleveland and stayed downtown, something I enjoy in the cities where we travel. When I arrived at the hotel, we noticed a classic building across the street, clearly historic, but the signage read “Heinen’s Grocery Store.” Puzzling.
When I walked in the former Cleveland Trust Company building, now a Heinen’s, the first thought was “WOW.” The circa 1910 building sat vacant for decades until the migration of population started moving back toward the city center, creating the demand for an urban grocery.
You’ve never seen a more beautiful food store. From what our customer shared, daytime traffic is tremendous. They have a very nice greens and vegetable area, and the second floor offers wine and beer. On the evening we were there, we sat and enjoyed wine by the glass, taking in the scenery of the building.
Over the last few years, we have been involved in several urban grocery stores, and in fact, this week opened a Publix in downtown Birmingham. Each of these stores I’ve encountered seems to have something to set it apart from the suburban counterpart. In Cleveland, it was the restoration effort. Our Publix store had multifamily mixed in with the development.
Cleveland’s downtown population currently stands about 17,000. These residents now have a grocery store and a unique, 100-year-old structure was made useful again. Seems a win all the way around, creative strategy at its best.