Like a kid warily entering the lobby of his new school for first time, I opened the door to Valet Market.
This cashier-less, uber-convenience store is on the first floor of Vantage Pointe luxury apartments in East Village. It’s a “grab-and-go” mini-market powered by an app.
The high-tech concept allows shoppers to scan in, pick up items from shelves and simply walk out. A receipt is emailed to your mobile phone.
Opened in mid-2021, it’s the first such retail store in a downtown residential building for San Diego-based Accel Robotics.
Maybe because my building was the guinea pig, I avoided the store for months.
Then came the fateful day my fridge was empty of cranberry juice. Expedience and necessity overcame untried techno-dread.
I downloaded the app. In the Valet lobby, I fumbled with the scan-in device, but the learning curve lasted all of two minutes. After shopping, I headed for the exit. It felt like stealing.
The receipt hit my cell phone instantaneously. It no longer felt like stealing. Today, visits now border on being addictive.
Based in Kearny Mesa, Accel Robotics had previously integrated its checkout-free “Last Step” technology into a few retail chains. It’s camera-based AI system is in place at a few Circle K’s in Phoenix and a Dunkin’ on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
Valet Market is the company’s first owned-and-operated store, says Ali Zamiri, Accel Robotics’ vice president of business development.
“On the one hand, it gives Brookfield some value as an amenity,” he says. “The store is close to the lobby, close to the elevators and people have been using it very regularly.”
The company is rumored to be looking at other opportunities to put Valet Markets in other downtown San Diego condos.
As it is now, anybody—even non-residents of Vantage Point who download the app—can shop at Valet Market from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The store is open to residents 24/7. And taking convenience to the next level, Valet Market technology offers delivery within the building.
Store associates deliver to the doors of residents up until midnight during the week and as late as 2 p.m. on weekends.
I’ve even seen sandwich-and-chips deliveries made to hungry residents sunning at the building’s 10th-floor swimming pool.
Store associate Victor Esquivel says people shop at Valet Market for essentials—milk, eggs, toilet paper and the like. Snacks are popular, he adds, and healthy food options fly off the shelves.
“People seem to feel like this has become part of their own kitchen or pantry,” Esquivel says. “They come down in slippers and shorts. They don’t have to talk to anybody. Everybody seems to like it.”
I’m sold. The receipt is in my inbox. SDSun
[COVER PHOTO: Valet Market store associate Victor Esquivel readies a delivery order.]
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