The Boston Globe has a story about “a wave of grocery stores coming to housing developments around the region. From the South End to Waltham, builders looking to fill their ground floors with businesses that double as amenities are teaming up with grocers who want easy access to an upscale clientele. The result: A new hybrid, something between the corner grocers of old Boston and the vast supermarkets of suburbia.”

Among the local retailers exploiting this opportunity are Whole Foods, Roche Bros., and Trader Joe’s, as well as Stop & Shop’s bFresh division, with Star Market, Stop & Shop and Market Basket all in various stages of planning for urban/neighborhood stores where they can banner up.

“For grocery stores, having residents upstairs provides a built-in customer base, and typically one apartment building leads to another, putting more customers within walking distance,” the Globe writes. “They can anchor not just a building, but a neighborhood.”

KC's View: With the growing urbanization of America, and the desire on the part of any retailer that is paying attention to find differentiated ways to connect with its customers, this approach makes a lot of sense. The notion of anchoring not just a building, but a neighborhood, is almost poetic … it speaks to not just relevance, but resonance.

To me, to see what is possible, one should look no further than the Roche Bros. store at Downtown Crossing in Boston. Sure, they had the advantage of it being the busiest intersection in the city. But Paul McGillivray and his team there put together a store that was enormously innovative, differentiated not just from everything else in the neighborhood but everything else in the chain.

Downtown Crossing is just one example. What Roche is doing with its Brothers Markets, and Stop & Shop is doing with bFresh, both are examples of how to attack the market from a different direction. Some will work, and others won’t. But doing the things the way they’ve always been done strikes me as not being an option.