Imagine walking into a health food paradise, surrounded by beautifully merchandised snacks and nut butters, CBD soda, bouquets of flowers, t-shirts that read ‘snack’, and fresh baked goods from the delightful west~bourne just a few blocks away.
Well, your dreams have been answered, but for 10 days only.
Created by Emily Schildt, the NYC-based Pop Up Grocer features hundreds of health food and natural body products — from Blender Bombs and the oh-so-frothy Happy Planet Oat Milk, to the new-to-market Akua Kelp Jerky and Instagram-famous Granola Butter, to frozen delights such as The Pagel and Crazy Richard’s Wholly Rolly Protein Balls.
Pop Up Grocer puts on display products that consumers may never have had the opportunity to see on a shelf — only their online shopping cart.
Get ready to discover a vast array of items you’ve never seen or heard of before.
We stopped in and spoke with Schildt about the shop, her inspiration, and what she can’t keep on shelves. (It might surprise you!)
What inspired you to launch Pop Up Grocer?
Emily Schildt: As a consumer, what I wanted from grocery was missing. On one end of the spectrum is mass retailers where there’s way too much of everything. We stand in the aisle for 20 minutes and ultimately never buy anything because there are just so many options. I also feel like they’re not trustworthy for that reason, and I have to spend a lot of time scrutinizing labels and differentiating products for myself, which is a lot of work. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are quite a few boutique groceries opening up in New York, and they just feel too inaccessible and sparse in their selection.
I really wanted to create a space that I wanted to shop at, one where you can trust everything on the shelf because you know it’s natural and preservative free with no artificial anything… but also fun.
I put a lot of thought into creating a space that communicates that, rather than it being natural in a prohibitive way. As for the brands, there are so many emerging small food companies that are really creative and who are making amazing products, but don’t have that visibility with consumers. I wanted to give them an opportunity to get in front of people who will be really excited by their products.
So you created your dream grocery, but you’re only open for 10 days! Do you have any plans to open the shop again, make it permanent, or open in other cities?
ES: For me, 10 days felt like a big enough — or small enough — risk, and the reception has been great. I’m really excited to open it up again in New York, and then take it all over the country. I think there’s a lot of opportunity for it to be on its own in other cities like it is here… but also maybe co-working spaces and festivals. Who knows? Food deserts definitely interest me, I just want to make sure the products are available online — otherwise, they wouldn’t have access to the products afterwards.
Which items can’t you keep on the shelf?
ES: Far and away the Sichuan Chili Crisp by Fly by Jing. It’s a chili oil but it has a crispy element to it, so it’s satisfying — the spice, the crunch. People come here intentionally to buy it and we sell out every day. Our t-shirts are the second best selling, then the granola butter.
What do you hope people walk away feeling?
ES: Natural food and a healthy diet gets a bad rap for being boring, bland, mundane, and exhausting, and requires so much self education. So I hope people walk away feeling good and excited to pursue eating better… not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the more fun thing to do.
Pop Up Grocer is open through Sunday, April 14 at 345 Broome Street in New York. Stop by while you can.
Sara Weinreb is a writer, sustainability consultant, and design thinking facilitator on a mission to support people and businesses in being kinder to themselves, each other, and the planet. She is the host of the Medium Well podcast, and founder of The M List, a daily newsletter supporting individuals in living a more mindful, holistic, and sustainable lifestyle. She writes for Forbes, mindbodygreen, Cherry Bombe, AlleyWatch, StartupFashion, and more.
Photos by: Heidi’s Bridge