Seven years after its founding in Chicago as a delivery-only convenience store, Foxtrot Market has developed into a popular chain of neighborhood-focused physical locations that now operates in three cities. The company, which opened its first store in the West Loop neighborhood of Illinois’ biggest city in 2016 and later expanded to Dallas, unveiled its first location in Washington, D.C., on March 1.
Like Foxtrot’s 10 other stores, the new location is a miniature specialty grocery store, coffee shop, wine seller and delivery hub all in one. The 3,000-square-foot store fuses those elements with a strong emphasis on locally produced goods to create an atmosphere designed to encourage shoppers to linger even as it emphasizes speed. In keeping with Foxtrot’s roots in e-commerce, everything in its assortment of about 1,000 SKUs is also available for delivery within an hour.
“I think people have very low expectations of what their corner store can be, and I think especially during the pandemic people were searching for spaces that could provide some bit of [normalcy]," CEO and co-founder Mike LaVitola said during a tour of the new Washington store. “That’s what our stores became.”
Foxtrot plans to open three more D.C. stores in 2021
Located on a corner along Wisconsin Avenue in the capital’s upscale Georgetown neighborhood, Foxtrot Market’s latest store is the first of four the company plans to open in the city this year. The retailer is putting the finishing touches on its second Washington location, situated about three miles away in the Mount Vernon Triangle district and due to open on March 22.
LaVitola said Foxtrot also expects to open the other two Washington stores by the end of 2021, but declined to say where they will be located. In addition, the company, which recently announced it had raised $42 million to fund its growth, expects to add four locations in Chicago and one more in Dallas this year and is scouting other possible Texas locations as well, he said.
A strong local focus
About 25% of the products in the new Foxtrot store come from producers in the Washington area, LaVitola said. Those offerings include local beer brands DC Brau and Senate Beer; greens from New York based Gotham Greens, which operates a greenhouse in Baltimore, Maryland; and sea salt chess pie from Whisked, a baker in Capitol Heights, Maryland. The store's beer and wine selection is curated by an in-house sommelier.
Sourcing from the community
Foxtrot uses proprietary software designed to make it easy for the company to work with smaller producers and encourages local companies to pitch their wares through its Up & Coming program, LaVitola said. The store carries products from local upstart Surprisingly Baked, which was a Washington-area favorite in Foxtrot's Up & Comers Small Makers Awards program. Other local brands featured in the store include Ice Cream Jubilee, Vigilante Coffee and Pluma by Bluebird Bakery.
"Every product has a story, and everything is here for a reason," LaVitola said.
A strong focus on delivery
The compact delivery-preparation area in the back of the store was teeming with activity on opening day. About half of Foxtrot's revenue comes from e-commerce orders.
Fresh food made on the premises
The new store features a wide variety of prepared foods made fresh daily in an on-site kitchen. Choices include carnitas, Mapo tofu, ramen and Mediterranean bowls, along with an Italian charcuterie board.
A food store built for relaxing — or working
The Georgetown Foxtrot store features a spacious seating area at the front. Tables have outlets to encourage people to use the space for work.