Downtown Manhattan is where you test an idea or concept; it’s where the trends and cultural identities of the new NYC are created.
When was the last time you thought of your favorite grocery store being a pop up instead of a typical weekend market? Pop Up Grocer recently opened in Manhattan’s Lower East Side on Bowery Street. Although it has already taken off to its next destination, I got the chance to visit this unique and colorful pop up on its very last weekend in the city.
The last time I remembered seeing this many colors was when I’d play with my rainbow parachute as a kid. As soon as I walked in, I was struck by different shades of red, blue, yellow, pink, green, and striking white T-shirts with colored words on them. Some of the shirts had signature pop up grocer logos, while others had fun words like “spicy,” “salty,” “sweet,” and “snack” on them. Before I could really dive into everything this store had to offer, I was drawn to a short message plastered on the wall in a clear and colorful font. It read “One day, we thought: what would our dream grocery store look like?” with a few details about the space written by its founder. Unfortunately, I was not able to meet the founder, Emily Schildt, but I was left in good hands as the staff was friendly and helpful.
As I got a better sense of the place, it felt like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory for adults, but instead of chocolate, it’s hundreds of innovative products from natural food brands. It’s a magical escape for people in the city that need clean groceries, ingredients, cbd products, magazines, and a fully staffed counter with hot coffee and treats for anyone popping in for a snack.
The grocery store was split up into different sections: frozen foods, crunch, puffs, drinks, boosters and blends, cereals, treats, zines, home, body, pet, jerky, and bars. They even had an interactive “Try Me” section where a woman stood at a counter offering samples of chips, sweets, and other snacks to customers to make sure they liked the products before buying them. Their confidence in the products allowed them to speak for themselves and made them more desirable to me and other shoppers in the store.
Although it was more on the plain side in comparison to the bright colors throughout the store, the CBD section was one that immediately caught my attention. They sold everything from the vape pens, to oils, powders, bath salts, Gossamer magazines, and creative edible snacks such as dark chocolate with truffles. I instantly felt relaxed just looking at this section because the products were wrapped in mostly whites, mint green, and light pink.
In fact, the colors and decorations are really what brought this space to life for me. Upon entering, I saw a large tree hovering over me with fresh mini oranges hanging from it. The entire shop is decorated with different plants and flowers in either vases or buckets. There are red and blue stools and chairs scattered throughout the place, tables, and even a tan couch with two black and white striped pillows. They make the atmosphere feel extremely comfortable and loungey by creating spaces for customers to sit back and eat their snacks or read a magazine. They even have a dining table with vegetable bowls to make it feel like a home environment.
Whenever I went to the grocery store, it always felt like a chore that I needed to get done. Shopping at Pop Up Grocer was an insanely different experience for me. It made me feel relaxed, excited, and motivated to pick up my groceries. It was an experience that exposed me to new foods, taught me about what types of food I should look for, and proved to me that a grocery store is actually one of the most important spaces within an urban city for the old, young, and everyone in between.
Eat better, feel better, and be better. Make better food a part of life.