After a successful test in a handful of Target stores last fall and winter, Twin Cities-based Local Crate is rolling out its locally sourced meal kits to more than 200 Target stores in Minnesota and California.
The expansion comes as many big retailers are trying to incorporate home-delivery meal subscription services that have proliferated in recent years into meal kits they can sell in stores. The in-store versions typically have all of the ingredients and step-by-step cooking instructions to make a single meal (with two servings) instead of multiple meals as is often the case with the delivery services.
Blue Apron, one of the most well known and biggest players in this space, has begun testing kits in select Costco stores on the West Coast. Walmart is rolling out its own to thousands of stores. Kroger has been adding more to its lineup and grocer Albertsons bought meal-kit company Plated last year.
Minneapolis-based Target piloted several different meal kits from mid-October to March. It tried Hello Fresh, Chef’d, and Local Crate at 10 Twin Cities stores. It also tested Chef’s Menu in select California stores and Tyson Tastemakers in Texas.
“Based on the results, we have decided to continue testing with a smaller assortment in various Minnesota, Texas, and California locations,” Target spokeswoman Kate Decker said.
While some of the other meal kits are no longer being sold at Target, the Tyson ones are still available in select Texas stores.
And Local Crate rolled out this week to 54 Target stores across Minnesota and 142 Target stores in California. The Local Crate kits will also be available for same-day delivery via Shipt in the Twin Cities.
Local Crate is also expanding its home delivery program to California, where is now employs eight people in San Mateo. It has also recently added delivery in Illinois with plans to do so soon in Wisconsin and Iowa.
Last month, Local Crate announced it completed a $1.4 million seed funding round. The startup — which launched in 2015 and has a production facility in St. Paul — was part of the Techstars retail accelerator at Target headquarters last summer.
Local eyewear firms expand distribution
Eyebobs and I-Gogs, two Minnesota-based eyewear companies, are expanding their field of vision.
Minneapolis-based Eyebobs, which sells eyeglasses frames and readers for the “irreverent and jaded” to more than 2,000 independent stores nationwide, is opening its first retail store after opening a test lab last year at its headquarters.
“We thought we could design a better store than the one we designed in-house,” said CEO Mike Hollenstein, referring to the test lab in the headquarters. The new Mall of America store on the first floor by DSW Shoes, is organized into six categories or events, such as “date night.” Full-length mirrors have replaced the smaller vanity ones, and each frame is individually lit on the display for easier viewing.
Prices start at $89 for readers, $149 for sunglasses, $199 for single-vision lenses and frame and $299 for progressives. The new store opens Saturday.
Eyebobs will open its next location in Orlando’s Florida Mall in August. Tentative plans are to have five stores open by the end of 2019 and nine by 2020.
I-Gogs, a Le Sueur, Minn., eyewear company, recently launched a website after resisting direct sales for many years. The firm’s executives said they didn’t want to poach business from their retail outlets, which include Minnesota convenience and grocery chains like KwikTrip, Lunds & Byerlys, Fleet Farm and Coborn’s.
I-Gogs CEO Dean Seaver, whose family started the business 36 years ago, decided to offer sunglasses with a different price point for online customers. In retail stores, prices for I-Gogs sunglasses range from $10 to $29. Prices online will range from $35 to $60 and the firm says it will over a higher-quality product there.
All of I-Gogs’ sunglasses offer UVA and UVB protection in polarized and non-polarized versions.