Foxtrot Market, a Chicago-based chain of convenience stores that blends digital and in-store shopping into one experience, is growing. Foxtrot currently has 13 locations in Chicago, Dallas, and Washington D.C, and will be adding 50 locations over the next two years. The stores will be located in New York City, Austin, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, and Houston. In addition, private label offerings will be expanded and a new 5-minute pick up service will be launched.
Foxtrot founder and CEO Mike LaVitola is bullish about growth. He believes that Foxtrot, a mix of convenience store, cafe, and shopping destination, is, “what the future of convenience looks like. We were initially online only, and when we opened the West Loop [Chicago] shop in 2015, we became more than a delivery app. We moved towards figuring out what consumers want in their neighborhoods and what they want in convenience. Currently, half of our transactions occur online and half occur in store. And it’s the same people who shop across both. There is no divide between the online and retail customer.”
Foxtrot leads the pack of innovative start-up convenience chains that have launched in recent years like The Goods Mart and Go Puff, who combine a virtual and physical experience. The Goods Mart focuses on discovery, offering a curated selection of brands focuses on health, sustainability, & wellness. At the other end of the spectrum, Go Puff’s focus is on hyper-convenience, delivering nation-wide in less than 30 minutes. Foxtrot falls somewhere in between, carrying old-school brands like Oreos alongside Tache pistachio milk and AshaPops water lily puffs.
In addition to the store count expansion, the footprint of Foxtrot stores will increase. According to LaVitola, when Foxtrot launched the emphasis was on delivery. Early stores occupied under 2,000 square feet. By watching his customers and how they were shopping, he realized there was an opportunity to turn Foxtrot into a destination. He tapped former Starbucks executive Sumi Gosh to join the team as COO earlier this year.
LaVitola says, “We never expected to be running a bustling coffee shop in the morning, a lunch destination, and a wine bar at night. That’s how our customers were using the space, but we weren’t set up for it. Now that we have had a couple of years to see how we fit in with our customers’ daily rhythms, we want to design our store spaces around it. It means more square footage.” According to the trade association NACS, the average convenience store is around 2,400 square feet.
Foxtrot is known for its eclectic merchandising mix and an emphasis on local, ‘up and coming’ brands. Last year it launched a line of private label offerings. LaVitola says 34% of sales are private label in 2021, up from 15% in 2020. The mix includes wine, chips, and a new line of ice cream. He says the stores will continue to carry a mix of independent brands and legacy brands alongside of private label, sharing, “Our vision is not to be Trader Joe’s. The lifeblood of our company is telling our brands stories.”