Gather is a new model for grocery store design - gathering food and community together. Users will make a grocery list on the Gather app on their smartphone or computer - the list is completely customizable so you buy ONLY what you need and nothing more: 10 oz of spinach, 2 cups of berries, 3 bananas. In this way users can make sure that they are not overbuying food they know they will never be able to finish before it expires (a consistent issue for many NYC chapter members, especially those cooking for one). The Gather app will then confirm your order and send a friendly confirmation and time to pick up your order.
Meanwhile at the Gather grocery store, staff members are filling order by measuring out bulk items to build the customized orders. Customers will need to bring their own bags and packaging to the shop to pick up their orders, drastically cutting down on packaging waste as well. A small communal "gather cafe" will be used as the customer waiting area for customers to wait in if they arrive before their order is ready. The gather cafe, “ready-to-go” meals will be for sale (made from all ingredients that will expire soon). The cafe will be a place for the community to physically gather and create a positive, stress free experience related to food purchasing.
Back at home - the user can keep track of items used on their app and track their progress in not wasting food. The app will keep track of all filled orders and a few days later remind the customers, asking if they have used everything in the order. The customer will note if items were thrown out instead of being eaten. Overtime the app will track an individual customer's progress in food waste. Potential features of the app could include: reminders to the customer - “Did you enjoy your spinach yet?”, linking with friends to compare food waste and allowing customers to engage in friendly competition, data collection by the gather grocery store to see how often people waste, how much, and what type of items. This data collection would allow the gather grocery store to continuously refine their own business model.
We drew the grocery store model from the ‘old county general stores’ where clerks used to gather all items on lists for customers - and more recently - from community Crop Share Associations (CSAs) where a community will all buy a share of a farmer’s crop and every week go to a pickup point to gather their share of all of the veggies for that week. Thank you to Kate Rushton for drawing our attention to this german grocery store with a similar goal towards bulk food items and customer control of quantity: http://shop.original-unverpackt.de/collections/