A technology provider that helps farmers markets handle online orders is set to open its first physical store — with more to come.
WhatsGood will open the first in a series of Chicago-based Farm Shops in the city’s Lincoln Park area on December 7. A small-footprint version of a farmer’s market, the store will feature locally sourced products and will offer one-hour local delivery to Chicago’s Northside. The company said it plans to open a WhatsGood Farm Shop in every neighborhood in Chicago and New England during the next two years.
The featured products in the Farm Shops will be locally sourced from farms and producers no more than a three-hour drive to the store. Every purchase will provide local food producers with six to eight times higher margins than a traditional grocery store, according to WhatsGood.
The store will reflect the theme of food supply transparency. Massive wooden barn doors separate the front shopping area from the rear fulfillment portion. At times, shoppers will be able to watch and meet farmers, artisans and chefs dropping off their products or observe dozens of online orders being picked and packed for delivery.
The store will feature open displays and ergonomic handmade wooden shelves. The colors and decor differ from traditional grocers, the company said, in that they mimic “the stark contrast of nature and modern city life while underpinning the presence of a bright future via technology.”
“WhatsGood's Farm Shop draws inspiration from the intimate relationship between food, community, and neighborhoods,” said Erin Tortora, chief operating officer. “These unique stores will showcase the finest foods and beverages locally produced by farmers and artisans. We are so passionate about locally sourced food that we want customers to be able to shop seasonally and locally all year long. Shoppers will find fresh, healthy, and organic food from sources they can know and trust."
WhatsGood has operated in Chicago since 2018 in close partnership with the city’s best farmers markets. During the pandemic, the company provided critical eCommerce and home delivery services to help connect Chicago to its local food sources. More than 30,000 Chicagoans use WhatsGood to connect with more than 400 farmers, artisans, and chefs from Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan.
“Our Farm Shop makes it possible for more people to experience what a farm fresh egg tastes like, or to bite into a locally grown apple and taste what fresh really is,” said Tortora. “It's not just in the name. We want people to reconnect with their food and the farmers who've worked so hard to grow it, and understand that against challenges like a pandemic or rising food prices, local food systems will demonstrate resilience as they did in 2020.”