Published On: Wed, Jan 29th, 2020

Poppy’s Greengrocer in New Hope moves on

Poppy’s Greengrocer, a natural food market located at 415 York Road in New Hope, closed its doors this past weekend, just a little over six months after opening.

The 4,000-square-foot location featured local and organic produce and flowers, grass-fed meat, sustainably caught seafood, natural and organic groceries, and sustainable home goods.

Poppy’s seemed like a natural fit for New Hope, Solebury, and Lambertville, communities with a median income higher than many surrounding areas, and long underserved in retail grocery options.

Poppy’s was the brainchild of Jennifer Brodsky, co-founder of Kitchen Table Consultants, a locally-based national food and farm consulting group, and had formerly served as marketing manager of Willow Creek Orchards in Collegeville, and as general manager of Terrain in Glenn Mills.

With a talented, experienced business owner and a business model that connects conscientious, savvy food shoppers with local farmers, why didn’t Poppy’s concept take off?

“Poppy’s was meant as a disruptor, a new way to connect consumers and farmers on their own terms,” explained Brodsky. “It was always a high-risk proposition, as is any new venture. A low-waste, local and small scale product focused store that refused to carry products that did not align with its mission. We believe it might be ahead of its time, and its location, and out of alignment with what the broader local customer base wanted from us.”

And that lack of alignment had resulted in more red ink than Brodsky was willing to tolerate.

“Even though we were on track to do over $1 million in sales in our first year, the sales never reached more than 50% of the projections of the third party feasibility study on which our financial plan was predicated,” she said. “We hoped that fourth quarter sales would see a significant spike that would show the possibility for rapid growth. The sales told us that we would not see anything but incremental growth over time.”

The recent arrival of McCaffrey’s Food Market just down West Bridge Street, with its formidable produce, meat, and seafood offerings, didn’t help matters. Nor did the recent opening of natural foods and supplements store Basil Bandwagon in nearby Lambertville.

“Two very established/known brand competitors came into the marketplace and opened within two miles of the Poppy’s, further negatively impacting sales,” observed Brodsky. “Basil was particularly painful since our top customer location was Lambertville. We had already been well into construction when they both announced around this time last year, and the Poppy’s train had left the station.”

Brodsky’s dream had been to move past the traditional model of a grocery store by offering the locally-sourced ingredients needed for fresh, seasonally-driven cooking. But in the end, her hard-nosed business acumen prevailed, and she made the tough call.

“Rather than look for additional investment/debt, we chose to wind down store operations and focus on getting vendors paid back, while exploring online and pop up markets locally, and in more urban markets that we feel better align with the concept,” Brodsky explained.

She remains optimistic and determined to continue pursuing her dream, while voicing her appreciation of Poppy’s local following.

“I want to express my personal gratitude to you,” Brodsky said in a letter to customers. “We know that every time you walk through our doors, you are voting with your dollar for the kind of world you want to live in. One that values community, respect and care for the land and those that tend it, thriving local economies with human scale businesses that share love, joy and good food with their neighbors.”

“We are excited for what the future holds,” she added. “Stay tuned for more updates and plans for the Poppy’s space.”

About the Author

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Displaying 14 Comments
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  1. thasluprus@thraml.com' Sandra says:

    If Jennifer Brodsky has any regrets perhaps it is agreeing to an interview for this article. Hope she reads all the comments. A “talented, experienced business owner” does not blame the customers for a defective business model. I see no ownership of the failure on her part. It was all our fault.

  2. Leighmarie123@gmail.com' Jessica says:

    ummm I don’t know, maybe it was the towns fault, or maybe it was the 10.00 dollar cereal available at Giant for 4.89? Maybe it was the 12.00 ice cream or the fact that each avocado cost 4.00? That’s an expensive guacamole. Even though this area is wealthy, it doesn’t mean people want to spend a fortune on grossly overpriced products. I went for the store closing when everything was 40 percent off and even the marked down price was still more expensive than any other store in town.

    The store also had zero organization and contradicted itself since day one. It originally stated it would be plastic free but the shelves quickly filled up with plastic left and right.

  3. buckscountyvegan@gmail.com' NewHopeChic says:

    I would’ve liked to see more vegan and plant-based options (I find these truly progressive and in line with the goals of less packaging) Alternatively, it would have been nice to see a one-stop organic produce store. One doesn’t have to eat ‘vegan’ or fully plant-based to really appreciate the need for an easy one-stop shop locally for good produce. My advice for anyone looking to open a small shop in New Hope would be to focus on things like just organic produce Or organic produce and nuts in bulk in the future. I’d love to shop with my cup of coffee in a spot like that each week. The area is really lacking a one-stop shop for these things. It would help me focus on buying healthy fruits and veggies without the distractions.. and the gas saved traveling around to county farmers markets would be well appreciated.

  4. Debbie.albucker@gmail.com' DMD says:

    Very insulting and dismissive of the local patrons
    Bit snobby instead of taking blame your model was off
    My husband and I in retail business locally for 26 years
    Was excited
    Had good feel but at first entry I could tell would fail as square footage was way off
    I find it hard to believe they even got close to million
    Wasn’t enough to buy

  5. So confused and amused… if New Hope is too down and out and provincial to “appreciate” Poppy’s offerings…. I imagine that those of us who live in the surrounding communities of Buckingham, Newtown, Yardley and Langhorne must be so uncouth and off demographic as to not to deserve that the store even existed. In fact the first time I learned of the store was when my husband and I ventured up to New Hope from Newtown this past weekend in our “rusting out fender tied on” late model hybrid to check out the new McCaffrey’s and noted to each other that we would come back next week to check out the new green grocer. Perhaps if the store thought to advertise they may have been sustainable. After all in our own litttle hovel of Newtown we manage to support stores that sell nothing but Bundt cakes, nothing but olive oil, nothing but waffles, nothing but Himalayan salt in addition to our own Long running Natural Grocer Grapevine along side a McCaffreys. I guess we will have to content ourselves with these offerings along with the fabulous Wrightstown Farmers market, Oragannons and Blue Moon in Buckingham and several other farms, natural grocers and health food stores in lower Bucks!

  6. Seashells0313@gmail.com' NH mom says:

    Agree with comments above. I was eagerly awaiting and the location is great, closer to me than Basil and not a hugely competitive lot, but the essentially were just not the local grab store I hoped. Overpriced, minimal and 1/3 ridiculous soaps! Please- just give us a reasonable priced cafe! Down home Aunt Judy’s style like Doylestown!

  7. Ltffas@comcast.net' Tom says:

    From the beginning they had too much wasted retail space. The “hallway” leading to the room next to Jamie Hollander was square footage wasted on a couple of candles and hand made soaps.

  8. chrisb@drextec.com' Local Buyer says:

    I was excited to see them open. The first visit was a bit puzzling as much of the space was dedicated to fancy soaps. Huh? The food offerings were overpriced and generally unremarkable and available elsewhere but I figured they were just getting going and would have more local items in the coming weeks. Instead I found some of the more interesting items gone (local glass bottle milk) and other items just painfully expensive. At that point I gave them 6 months.

  9. Hope@blaythorne.com' New Hope says:

    I agree with the comment above. I loved the mission and paid a visit to the store when they first opened, but it was such a hodge podge of offerings I had no idea what they were going after. As someone with a marketing background I saw there was no clear mission and predicted how long they would stay in business with $7 tortilla chips, and $16 pumpkin bread. I also went to the snack bar window as I heard the offerings were good and encountered the same thing, sold out. We tried the salads for lunch but they left us hungry despite their dinner sized price tag.
    They had the same sort of pantry gourmet can/preserve offerings as Hollanders next door, but more expensive. So the consumer should bear the cost of this new Mission/model, when I could not see why the same tortilla chips you can get at Shop rite was 50% more. I have and do support local options, at a premium, but I did not see value at Poppy’s. Instead of blaming the timing and audience, I think there was a myopic idea of how this business model should be received when it clearly was not created in a customer first approach as much as a mission first approach. We voted with our wallets after we gave them a chance, the $16 pumpkin Bread closed my wallet for good…..

  10. elicash9876@gmail.com' Mahomes says:

    On paper the concept sounded great. I stopped in twice during the first month – the first time to try to support a new place still finding it’s legs, but walked out empty handed on the second visit. Walking back to the car I told my spouse “it will be closed in a year” – turns out it was far less than that.

    This town has plenty of money. The “middle class” of 18938 live in big developments full of $500,000-$700,000 and have $50,000 cars in the driveway, and the upper end live in multimillion dollar houses with $130,000 SUV’s to shuttle the kids around.

    This store wasn’t “ahead of it’s time” or “ahead of it’s location” (dismissive of your patrons much?) –

    Their “problem” was that even most rich people do not like to be gouged on items they don’t need – there’s only so much overpriced handcrafted novelty soap one needs, regardless of wealth. It would be incredibly hard to fill any serious parts of your daily needs at the store, so unless you wanted to spend a ludicrous amount of money on small quantities just because things came in cute jars with folksy twine and parchment labels, you were out of luck.

    Buy a little produce at Poppy’s, then still have to make a second stop at Giant (unfortunately) – or now McCaffrey’s (yay!) – to do all of the real shopping. Unfortunately that’s the reality, regardless of good intentions.

  11. jcrilley3@comcast.net' JoeSchmoe says:

    I agree, I tried to support Poppy’s, but the few times I went there, I couldn’t find anything I really needed.

  12. thasluprus@thraml.com' Sandra says:

    Walked in once when they opened, bought nothing, walked out & never returned. I gave the place 6 months to a year and I was right.

  13. I loved the idea and I supported them. When they opened I fell in love with their fresh creative salad window, but that quickly disappeared. I wasn’t sure why I should pay a middle man for local produce when I could go right to the source at my local produce stands. They were also limited in what they carried. I wanted oranges, they told me they wouldn’t carry oranges because they weren’t local, so I headed to Giant for my oranges.
    I wish them luck. I just never saw the advantage of them other than a fresh lunch.

  14. gfgmd@aol.com' GFG says:

    I was excited when Poppy’s opened, and I really wanted it to succeed. It was a beautiful store with a positive mission.

    The last time I walked in there it was lunch time on a weekday and I thought I would pick up a sandwich or a salad for lunch. I was told they were out of fresh lunch items, and that if I wanted I could order a pizza. I must say I found it strange that there was nothing I could take away for lunch in a store that says it has a snack bar.

    Other times I did not find basic items I wanted, but instead plenty of esoteric products. I wanted to buy something to show my support, but found nothing I could use and walked out, somewhat confused.

    To say that the store was “ahead of its location” sounds somewhat patronizing. There are plenty of sophisticated people in this area who know about food. However, a store cannot survive by just having a great concept. It has to provide products that people want and need.

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