2020 Outstanding Independents, Deli/Prepared Foods: Palmer's Market

Gina Acosta
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2020 Outstanding Independents, Deli/Prepared Foods: Palmer's Market

Palmer’s Market has always been a trailblazer when it comes to grocery foodservice. This indie grocer, located about 37 miles northeast of New York City, knew well before many small and national food retailers that consumers would increase their consumption of prepared and cooked foods. To wit, household penetration for grocery foodservice grew to 94% in 2019, according to FMI - The Food Industry Association’s latest “Power of Foodservice at Retail” report, with 63% of shoppers turning to semi-prepared and fully prepared foods from retail foodservice for dinner solutions.

“Our one store will do over $19 million in sales in 2019. About $5 million of that is from our prepared food, catering and deli departments, which are projected to exceed grocery sales by the end of 2019,” says Cindy Palmer Dean, owner and creative director.

Also, at a time when many food retailers are paring down center store assortments, cutting SKUs and adding private brands at the expense of national brands, Palmer’s is focused on making center store a place where shoppers can find a curated product experience that can’t be replicated in other stores or online.

“We are one of the few stores whose center store is growing because of the extensive selection of gourmet and local products that our managers source,” Palmer says.

Meanwhile, not even ecommerce is making a dent in the retailer’s success. “Ecommerce has dramatically increased our sales by allowing customers to order prepared foods, flowers and gourmet gift baskets,” Palmer says.

Palmer’s traces its roots back to the early 1900s as a family-owned butcher shop in Stamford, Conn. Now, the fourth and fifth generations of Palmers are running the business, and their vision has transformed a simple market into a one-stop shopping destination that even offers guided food tours to global destinations.

“What also makes us unique are our culinary tours to Italy,” Palmer says. “We joined forces with our Italian importer to offer tours that have been extremely popular with our customers.”
Looking ahead, the Palmers have more plans as the store approaches its centennial in 2020.

“Our shopping center is in the process of a $35 million dollar renovation. We look forward to changing and growing in our next 100 years,” Palmer says.