Reading Terminal Market’s new GM discusses vision with Philadelphia Business Journal

Philadelphia Business Journal’s Fran Hilario sat down with Anuj Gupta, Reading Terminal Market’s new general manager, to discuss his three piece vision for the market’s future.  Focusing on reducing congestion within the physical market, revamping the market’s technological services, and being on the forefront of innovative facility management strategies were just some of the concepts Gupta addressed as he looks to take the helm of Philadelphia’s historic public market.  Here is the full article:

The Reading Terminal Market’s new general manager has a vision to guide the 123-year-old market, and it includes the help of technology to go up against competition.

“The ultimate success of an idea is whether people buy into it or not,” said Anuj Gupta, who will take the helm of the market on June 15. “One of the elements of that vision is that it still has maintained and strengthened that balance as a place that appeals to everybody.”

The first piece in Gupta’s vision is leveraging the market’s physical plant, which attracts more than 6 million people a year. And anyone who’s walked through the 78,000-square-foot market during lunch hour would understand why that’s top of mind.

“Are there ways we can better leverage the perimeter of the market to ease that congestion a little bit?” Gupta said.

Under his leadership, Gupta said it will be important to maintain the market’s “authenticity” by ensuring its “viability as a shopping destination as much as it is a dining destination.”

The market will be facing stiff competition, including the upcoming 16,000-square-foot Mom’s Organic Market nearby and other specialty groceries coming to the city.

Using technology

Gupta plans on taking on the competition by leveraging technology, or the second piece of his vision.

Is there a way to use “technology to make the market more accessible for people even if they can’t physically be here?” Gupta asked. “When they think about their evening’s groceries, this is the first place they think of.”

The Reading Terminal Market, in November, launched its partnership with delivery service Instacart, allowing customers to order items from the market’s merchants online that will then be delivered to their doors in under an hour.

Bolstering this partnership to include the city’s largest employers would be key, he said.

Using technology to help people navigate through the market is also something to look at in the future.

The technology only gets you so far,” he said. “If the product isn’t good, the technology is worthless. But the product here, you can’t beat it.”

Being an innovator

The third piece in Gupta’s vision is being on the “forefront” of the dynamic food culture and industry in Philadelphia, so people go to the market to get the “newest innovations,” he said.

“We have to be innovators,” he said. “Not just the vendors and showcasing their innovations. We have to be innovators ourselves, as a facilities manager, guardians of an important public space and as the landlord.”

Choosing the right balance of merchants in the market when vacancies are available is key to being on that forefront. There is currently one vacancy in the space once occupied by Mezze, which was owned by the same folks behind the market’s By George and Hunger Burger spots.

Fun fact: Anuj Gupta’s wife, Prema, is the director of planning and economic development of University City District. She is responsible for the transformation of The Porch, an outdoor space at 30th Street Station.

While Anuj didn’t specify if there are any plans to partner with University City District or The Porch, he said creating a “greater awareness” of the market as a destination is important for the future, and could include setting up physical locations at festivals and other events.

Gupta will take the helm of the market after serving as executive director for community development corporation Mt. Airy USA. He will step down from his position on June 12.

Mt. Airy USA’s Bradley R. Copeland, director of real estate development, and Abby Thaker, director of development and education partnerships, will lead the organization in the interim while it searches for Gupta’s replacement.

Link to full article here