Not all grocery stores are created equal.
There isn’t exactly a dearth of grocery stores in the area around the planned West Falls Church Economic Development Project, inspiring some confusion when it was announced the project will be anchored by 123,000 square feet of retail primarily consisting of a grocery store.
But at a recent meeting last week on the project, developer EYA argued that the city is big enough to accommodate multiple grocery retailers.
“Within this market, because it’s such a high density area leading towards both to Tysons as well as towards downtown Falls Church, the numbers within that three mile ring is high,” Evan Goldman, executive vice president of acquisition and development for EYA, said. “Even though you do have a lot of grocery stores, you have different types of grocery stores.”
The identity of the grocer expected to move into the extensive mixed-use development remains under wraps, sealed by a nondisclosure agreement, according to City of Falls Church staff.
Goldman noted that some grocery store chains operate as primary stores for staples, while others live symbiotically with those chains as providers for more niche products.
“Like Trader Joe’s, that’s something where somebody will often cross-shop,” Goldman said. “They’ll go to Trader Joe’s and Giant or Whole Foods or Harris Teeter. The grocery store we’re bringing to bear is something more unique and different as well, so it might be something as well where people cross-shop to grocers.”
The cross-shopping trend for grocery stores was called into question during the pandemic, however, when more shoppers started to focus on getting all their grocery needs at a single store. Whether that endures after the pandemic is too early to say.
“Grocery stores, of all the retail tenants, probably have the most sophisticated demographic software when they determine locations,” Goldman said. “So they clearly think there’s demand for their product here, and we agree based on what we’ve seen.”
Final action on the West Falls development — and its mystery tenant — is scheduled for May 24.
Image via City of Falls Church