Carving a Niche: NOOCH Vegan Market

NCR Silver customer Nooch Vegan Market

Some retailers want to build a thriving business. Others do that and create a new niche.

NOOCH Vegan Market opened up shop in mid 2012 and has already moved into another space — a 1,600-square-foot market near a ton of other local businesses in Denver, just south of downtown. It also has an e-commerce site to extend its brand past the Mile High City.

Today, says owner Vanessa Gochnour, NOOCH Vegan Market has become a destination spot due to the dearth of like-minded grocers in the area.

But it wasn’t as if there weren’t a lot of vegan products out there, especially in a market like Denver. What there was a lack of were markets that brought it all together or one that offered the hard to find vegan products.

Enter NOOCH.

“We wanted to help cultivate a vegan scene in Denver,” Gochnour says. “My original partner had a grocery background. I was working with a local boutique. We both had a vision: To sell all vegan products that can be sourced ethically and sustainably.”

NOOCHOutside

They started out small before opening a brick and mortar. At first, they were part of an all vegan pop-up market that popped up in different venues around Denver with other local vegan vendors.

By the time they had some brand recognition and market validation, they took the plunge.

Changing mindsets

To the uninitiated, the challenges of running an upscale vegan market aren’t what you think. Competition with big box stores like Whole Foods hasn’t been that difficult, due to the fact that NOOCH Vegan Market specializes in goods you generally don’t find there.

The biggest obstacle, Gochnour says, has been consumers’ attitudes toward spending money on food for the home.

“Our big lesson learned is how people spend money on food can be challenging,” she says. “The type of food we sell is definitely higher priced. Some consumers seem to have no problem spending big money at a restaurant on one meal. But in terms of breaking down meals to make at home, spending money on groceries can be more about getting the best deals and keeping budgets in check.”

To combat this challenge, Nooch Vegan Market (nooch is slang for nutritional yeast) provides products that are difficult to get elsewhere. Think bee-free honey, dairy-free chocolate and vegan cheeses from small, newer companies.

But perhaps the biggest differentiator is the people. Gochnour’s staff has an above-average knowledge on the vegan lifestyle and gives “customers an experience they would never get in a large grocery store.”

noochinside1Picking a POS

Among the many choices of any retailer is which POS system to use.

Gochnour chose NCR Silver for inventory management, employee tracking and more. NCR Silver’s top competition, she says, was more geared toward smaller shops.

“With the amount of inventory we have,” Gochnour says, “we found Silver to be most compatible of the POS systems we looked at.”

Driving awareness

NOOCH Vegan Market is one of five small businesses participating in The Bill’s on Silver program. It’s designed to not only get people talking about Small Business Saturday but also spending money on it…and beyond.

The program extends this spirit throughout the holidays with hundreds of dollars of gift vouchers, back office support, and “feet on the street” to spread the word.

The next step

Gochnour doesn’t have immediate plans to expand its brick and mortar stores. But the e-commerce site is always up for an expansion.

For now, the big thing she’s working on is expanding delivery options. They’re looking to offer grocery delivery services through an app, like Uber for groceries.

“Business has been great,” Gochnour says. “We’re seeing growth, and more people finding us everyday.”

Does your small business have a good story to tell? Or might you be interested in participating in future promotions like this? If so, give us a shout. 

Related post: Nashville’s time machine: Elliston Soda Shop

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