The idea of a holiday food gift shop is all the rage these days, with people trying to get as much money as they can for the holidays.
But it’s hard to imagine this being the case for a grocery store in Missoula, Montana.
That’s because Missoulan grocery stores have become synonymous with the food section of stores like Walmart and Target, which have also started to sell more items from their online section.
It’s not just a problem for consumers who might have trouble finding the products they’re looking for on the shelves.
The food section is the big winner.
“You can’t really go anywhere else,” said Dan McAdams, associate professor of marketing and business administration at the University of Montana.
McAdams said grocery stores in Missourian have become a haven for shoppers who need more than a simple shelf space.
If you go to Walmart or Target, you might be looking at a shelf of groceries, but if you’re in Missouri, you’ll be buying the stuff that’s in the grocery store.
“I’ve seen a lot of shoppers come in and say, ‘I need the stuff I need in grocery stores, but I don’t know where to get it,'” he said.
McAdams said the food sections in grocery store chains tend to sell fewer items than the online stores.
“So that’s the challenge for the grocery stores: how do we make the food more accessible to people who need it?”
McAdams explained that Missoulans online food section, which is owned by the Montana State University Extension, has the potential to make it even easier for shoppers to find the items they need.
“We do have a whole food section on our site, and we also have a store section,” he said, adding that the food department also has the opportunity to help shoppers find their own local produce.
“If you’re looking to get some local produce, there’s a lot more products that are available online.”
He added that the grocery department also offers a food-sharing section, allowing shoppers to order from online retailers.
But the food departments have a big challenge: making sure that all of the items on their shelves are from the same supplier.
“You’ll see a lot items from the grocery chain, but they’re all from different suppliers, so you’ll have a lot different kinds of items that you’re not seeing on the shelf,” he explained.
“The good news is that the suppliers are pretty consistent, and it’s very easy to compare the prices online.”
McAdams told ABC News that the online food sections at some grocery stores may be better than the food-selling section at others, but that it’s still hard to know if you’ll find exactly what you’re searching for.
“When you’re shopping online, you don’t really know if it’s a good deal,” he suggested.
“Even the best deals are often not always the cheapest deals, and sometimes there are a lot better deals.”
McAdadas point out that Missouria’s food department is a great example of a new, sustainable approach to food, where suppliers are not just selling their product, but also their philosophy on the product.
“What we do is we have a long list of suppliers, and the products that we’re looking at are all organic, from local, sustainable sources,” he added.