There is an excellent piece in Longreads that describes how Rich Niemann, president/CEO of the Midwestern grocery company Niemann Foods, worked with Kevin Kelley of architectural design firm Shook Kelley to figure out how to survive in an industry that he feared was dying, with stores that he feared might soon become obsolete.

“Niemann hired Kelley in the context of this imminent doom,” the story says. “The assignment: to conceive, design, and build the grocery store of the future. Niemann was ready to entertain any idea and invest heavily. And for Kelley, a man who’s worked for decades honing his vision for what the grocery store should do and be, it was the opportunity of a lifetime — carte blanche to build the working model he’s long envisioned, one he believes can save the neighborhood supermarket from obscurity.”

The result was a store called Harvest Market, which is designed to be “the anti-Amazon. It’s designed to excel at what e-commerce can’t do: convene people over the mouth-watering appeal of prize ingredients and freshly prepared food. The proportion of groceries sold online is expected to swell over the next five or six years, but Harvest is a bet that behavioral psychology, spatial design, and narrative panache can get people excited about supermarkets again. Kelley isn’t asking grocers to be more like Jeff Bezos or Sam Walton. He’s not asking them to be ruthless, race-to-the-bottom merchants. In fact, he thinks that grocery stores can be something far greater than we ever imagined — a place where farmers and their urban customers can meet, a crucial link between the city and the country.”

You can read the whole, fascinating story here.

KC's View: This story speaks so clearly about the necessary connection between technological connections and emotional connections. We talk a lot here on MNB - and in our Retail Tomorrow podcasts and conferences - about how technology is a transformative element … but it is just as important, maybe more so, to tell a story in stores, through services and products and people and format, that create and sustain emotional connections.