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Back to the City: The Re-emergence of the Urban Grocery Store in Mid-Sized Cities(2009)

Directed by Jo Leimenstoll; submitted to the Dept. of Interior Architecture.

Includes bibliographical references (p. 64-67), 133 p.


"This paper investigates how an urban grocery store can be tailored to fit into an urban context and adapt to the urban consumer. In approaching this research, the researcher observed two successful urban grocery stores in medium sized cities in North Carolina and compared the visual evidence to previous research of grocery scholars. The investigation looks at the urban grocery store as an essential feature of a successful revitalized downtown. The stores selected for this research are located in Charlotte and Raleigh, NC. These urban stores have clearly set themselves apart from their competitive suburban grocery stores by tailoring their store circulation, department location, display fixtures, lighting, and overall ambiance of the store. The decor and music of the two urban stores were also examined in the visual analysis process. The researcher conducted a visual study by collecting field notes and used photo-documentation of the two urban stores, then analyzed the grocery stores' exterior and interior architecture. The findings were then compared to what previous grocery scholars outlined as the traits of an urban grocery store. A pattern emerged during the analysis process, which confirmed existing theories. The gaps in the research were filled by looking at the visual evidence of these two urban stores. The researcher found that most of the characteristics that make an urban grocery store successful were implemented in the two urban stores. The stores were similar in their location, target clientele, architecture, and store layout. The two stores are both located on desirable urban sites that are convenient to other downtown amenities. They also target the same customers who are usually high-income singles, young professionals and empty nesters. Both stores blend their exterior architectural features with surrounding buildings, and the store layouts fit with the needs of the community. This thesis has clarified what characteristics are desired of the urban grocery store in order to be accepted in an urban environment and how the store's existence could contribute to downtown revitalization efforts."

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