NORTH PARK — Far North Side families are getting a new grocery store — one that offers only curbside pickup.
Fresh Street, which bills itself as the city’s first pickup-only grocery business, will open March 18 at 6191 N. Lincoln Ave. in North Park.
The local startup is the latest to enter a growing field of technology-focused grocery businesses. Fresh Street focuses exclusively on pickup grocery orders instead of in-store shopping or delivery.
Fresh Street is rolling out a website and smartphone app where users can order from more than 4,000 grocery store products. Its employees prepare the order for pickup in about 30 minutes, founder and CEO Mike Sayles said.
Customers get a notice when their order is ready. The store has dedicated curbside pickup parking spaces where customers wait while their order is brought out.
The idea is to replace the traditional grocery store stop for busy families while seeking to perfect the online grocery shopping experience, Sayles said.
“Our core demographic is families who are really busy,” Sayles said. “You get to a point where grocery shopping is less an experience and more of a chore. How can we find an online solution that is fast, easy and affordable?”
Fresh Street is launching its service with the location on the border of North Park, West Ridge and Lincolnwood. There is a high concentration of families in those dense neighborhoods and nearby suburbs, Sayles said.
Sayles also is looking to open locations in suburban Darien and Naperville.
“We’re going to naturally gravitate to areas where there are families,” Sayles said.
Sayles launched the company after spending years in the food retail business, including eight years at Chicago-based candy giant Ferrara Candy Company. Fresh Street raised $4 million for its launch last year.
It is the latest company offering online grocery shopping in Chicago.
Two grocery delivery companies debuted in the city last year: Turkish startup Getir and Buyk.
Those companies entered a crowded field of e-commerce-focused grocery businesses. But Fresh Street decided not to offer delivery, with Sayles saying customers prefer a reliable and affordable alternative to traditional grocery shopping.
Whereas some grocery delivery businesses catch flak for puzzling product substitutions, Sayles said Fresh Street’s focus on pickup and its real-time inventory-tracking technology will make for a better experience.
“Our consumer research shows people like delivery but don’t like to pay for it,” Sayles said. “We’re going to do this one thing and do it well.”
Fresh Street will allow customers into its 11,000-square-foot store in North Park. Customers will be able to enter a lobby where orders can be placed on computers. A mural from local graffiti artist Rubén Aguirre adorns the area, which has windows that look into the fulfillment area.
The facility will be open from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
With Fresh Street, Sayles said he is trying to solve an issue for busy families while making his business a new kind of neighborhood staple — one you can’t physically shop yourself.
“A big piece of what we’re trying to do is give people back time in their day,” he said.
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