Breaking News
More () »

Some local grocery stores are closing before they open, others are betting on $99 wellness subscriptions

Amazon and HyVee are making news for very different reasons this week, but both reflect changes in the grocery industry.

MINNEAPOLIS — At a time when grocery shopping habits keep shifting, one local chain is betting big on an expensive new subscription model tailored to health conscious shoppers, while another company appears to be pulling the plug on some brand new stores... before they even open.

At a time when stores are struggling to maintain loyalty due to price conscious shoppers, HyVee is betting on a new subscription model geared toward health conscious customers who may have health complications to consider.

But it won't come cheap.

Customers pay $99 a month, and commit to a three month minimum, in exchange for access to a range of diet and wellness services, including one-on-one access to licensed dieticians every month.

"You'll get two 30 minute nutrition consultations that can be used however the client would like," said Michelle Jaeger, one of the registered dieticians who will help customers both in-person and virtually in the Twin Cities area.

The Healthy You subscription doesn't include any special food discounts or rewards, but it features access to other services including live meal planning workshops, freezer meal planning videos and a library of at-home exercise classes. 

"It's a really well rounded subscription plan that's tackling both sides of the health and fitness world," Jaeger said.

It's certainly a new way for the chain to try to set itself apart at a pivotal time.

Professor George John, with the U of M's Carlson School of Management says HyVee is doing what stores are always trying to do — build brand loyalty.

"Hy-Vee, what it's trying to do is to throw more things into that bucket so that the loyalty is a little bit stickier," John said.

Kent Erdahl: "It's certainly a big subscription in terms of cost. What do you make of that?"

George John: "It's sort of a high risk, high return kind of a gamble. Let's just remember, grocery stores have expanded into drug stores. If you think about it, these wellness things are another element of that sort of adjacent health space. I'm surprised some grocery store hasn't opened up gyms. That's probably in somebody's business plan out there.

If fitness expansions really are in a retailer's plans, there's some prime real estate hitting the market.

And after months of speculation, it appears that Amazon is pulling the plug on six Amazon Fresh grocery stores that it nearly finished, but never opened, in the Twin Cities suburbs.

"It definitely seems like the company is reconsidering the concept," said Mark Reilly, Managing Editor for the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, who has written about the mysterious, long-vacant buildings.

Though Amazon never actually confirmed it's plans to open the stores, the company was listed on city permits for the Eagan location. In February, Amazon cautioned that it was pausing its nationwide rollout and now the buildings are listed for sub-lease.

Reilly says it's more evidence that the grocery industry is at a crossroads and chains are unsure where to turn next.

"People will make changes to their habits when there is a big enough shock, and maybe that shock is the pandemic, maybe that shock is inflation," he said. "(Retailers) are all trying to see where is the new normal now? We thought we had it. It changed again last year, where is it now?"

Watch more Breaking The News:

Watch all of the latest stories from Breaking The News in our YouTube playlist:


Download the free KARE 11+ app for Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV and other smart TV platforms to watch more from KARE 11 anytime! The KARE 11+ app includes live streams of all of KARE 11's newscasts. You'll also find on-demand replays of newscasts; the latest from KARE 11 Investigates, Breaking the News and the Land of 10,000 Stories; exclusive programs like Verify and HeartThreads; and Minnesota sports talk from our partners at Locked On Minnesota. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out