A new supermarket experience: Chandeliers, piano, electronic product finder

FreshChoice City Market, interior.

Live music, an espresso bar, touch screen technology, compostable bags and an extensive range of food and beverages.

If you thought this would be a regular supermarket – think again.

The Crossing’s FreshChoice City Market will open its doors on Tuesday after almost five years from the first conversation to bringing it into fruition.

Owners Neville and Heather Brown hope it will offer a different experience for the people of Christchurch, who will be the first in the country to trial some new initiatives.

NEW: Jenna Brown, who helped design lil’ Ruby, and manager Alex Priest, in the espresso bar at FreshChoice City Market.

“We have pushed the boundaries to a new level for a supermarket experience for our shoppers and to encourage them to support Christchurch and the central city rebuild,” Heather said.

As you come through the main entrance to City Market, customers are welcomed by Lil’ Ruby Espresso, which has already opened.

The grocery industry is a family business for the Browns, and Neville’s mother Ruby was no different.

“It’s a salute to Lil’ Ruby,”

The espresso bar provides a range of lunch time food and Allpress coffee made with a La Marzocco espresso machine – all prepared by qualified chefs and baristas.

Heather said it is the perfect place for someone to stop and enjoy a superb coffee at the relaxed communal table, or get yourself a caffeine fix on the run.

Those in a hurry will be able to order and pay for their coffee on the self serve touchscreen or through the Lil’ Ruby app on their phone.

It was decided to have live music as part of the experience at City Market.

They bought a piano which was saved from the Christchurch Catholic Cathedral Music Centre following the February 22, 2011, earthquake.

FreshChoice City Market, owner Heather Brown.

It now sits proudly in City Market.

Heather has chosen almost every piece of music that will play through the supermarket on a high level sound system to enhance the ambiance for shoppers’ pleasure.

At different times of the week City Market will have professional piano and saxophone players to perform and entertain shoppers.

“We will invite shoppers or visitors in the store to give us a tune on the piano when the musicians are not present.”

City Market’s philosophy is loyal to local.

Where possible, they want to showcase local growers and producers from right here in Canterbury.

“We are looking to profile local artisan companies and producers, as well as giving them a platform to showcase their goods.”

That’s part of their “food families” philosophy.

Heather said they included local or New Zealand-owned companies that had a long history of success, produced top quality products and had excellent ethical practices.

FreshChoice City Market has an original Chinese medicine cabinet to display wine. PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER

Some of those brands, including Peter Timbs, Theo’s Fish, Vic’s Bakery and Divine Cakes, would all be sold at City Market.

Others were The Good Oil Co, Chocolate Traders, Wash Creek Organic Lamb and Beef, J. Friend and Co Honey, Craft Farmers Co Op Organic Eggs, Breads of Europe and Jaime les Macaron to name a few.

But in saying that, City Market will also feature international products that were rarely available elsewhere, or exclusive.

It has an extensive range of local and international wines and beers, including its very own private labels and a new release of Our House red and white wines at an exceptionally good price.

The selection is suited to everyone’s budgets and palates.

City Market also has the full range of supermarket items at very low prices to cater for customers’ full shopping baskets.

Even though the store looks impressive, their prices are competitive.

With the new supermarket came the opportunity to trial new things.

City Market will have the country’s first touch screen electronic product finder.

Customers can go to a screen and type in the name of the product they want.

It will then direct the customer to the right aisle. When they get to the aisle, the electronic price ticket flashes so the customer can see where it was – a fast and easy product finder. It will also be possible to use this application from your phone.

City Market has imported a beautifully designed trolley that will have you zipping around the aisles effortlessly.

To help people feel relaxed and at home, City Market’s decor includes black chandeliers, an antique Chinese cabinet, a French Country dining table and chairs, an African drum display table and more.

Heather said they had also been very conscious of their packaging and refrigeration systems.

They have installed an energy saving, eco-friendly refrigeration system that has a low carbon footprint.

City Market will also trial 100 per cent compostable bags made of cornstarch. They will be one of the first supermarkets in New Zealand to trial these.

Heather said they are testing the bags for strength and durability.

FreshChoice City Market will have a community fund where a financial grant is given out on a monthly basis.

“Because we are in the central city, we’ve chosen the City Mission to be the recipient of our community donation,” Heather said.

Food that had not been sold would also be donated.

“We chose to partner with the City Mission because we’re a CBD store. We’re mindful of the social challenges some people face in the central city.”

The Browns want convenience for shoppers to be a priority at City Market.

Through Click and Collect, customers will be able to do their shopping online, and pick it up.

A new initiative, City Market Business Box, aims to make it easy for businesses to order online and have their supplies delivered.

Businesses can also order fresh flowers to put on display in their reception area from City Market’s wide selection.

There will be 12 checkouts, some of which will be self-service, and some that will have friendly staff ready to serve you.

Extra supervisors will be on hand to assist people with the self-scan checkouts, but they are very user-friendly, Heather said.

The Browns made the decision to develop a central city supermarket to “do their part” in the rebuild, as supermarkets helped establish communities and bring people together.

Heather said they hope people will enjoy this new shopping experience, whether it is workers stopping for a quick bite, people doing their weekly shop, or those looking for specialist products.

FreshChoice City Market will be open from 7am-9pm daily on Lichfield St.

“I believe when the heart of a city functions well and is vibrant and healthy, it flows out to the rest of the city.”

•Anyone who makes a purchase at Lil’ Ruby Espresso or City Market will go in the draw to win two tickets to Ed Sheeran and accommodation in Dunedin for his March 29 concert.