Startup plans LI convenience stores that shoppers can’t enter

DoorDash opening two DashMart spots in coming months

DoorDash's Tony Xu with 51 Eads Street and 6133 Jericho Turnpike
DoorDash's Tony Xu with 51 Eads Street and 6133 Jericho Turnpike

A couple of convenience stores coming to Long Island are so convenient, customers don’t even need to go inside. In fact, they can’t.

DoorDash is opening two DashMart locations on the peninsula, Newsday reported. The stores enable customers to order groceries, goods and restaurant items on the DoorDash app to be delivered or picked up.

But customers who fetch their items go straight to a window or pickup area. They are not permitted to shop in person.

The first store is scheduled to open in early June at 51 Eads Street in West Babylon. The company leased an 8,000-square-foot building.

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Getting orders to doorsteps in as little as 15 minutes requires companies to lease lots of space close to customers in targeted markets. (iStock)
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The second store will come online during the third quarter at 6133 Jericho Turnpike in Huntington. Commack Cubes LLC, which owns the building, applied for interior alterations of the 11,000-square-foot building, labeling the property a “storage facility.”

DoorDash is tightlipped when it comes to the DashMart program, the locations of which sell an average of 2,000 items. There are upwards of 25 DashMart locations in the United States, including more than a dozen planned or operating in New York state.

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In December, DashMart made its New York City debut in Chelsea, the New York Post reported.

DashMart launched in August 2020, betting that customers would pay a premium for the convenience of shopping directly from the DoorDash app. DoorDash was founded as a restaurant delivery app in 2013, but started adding convenience stores such as 7-Eleven and Circle K in April 2020.

Until recently, rapid-delivery startups were gobbling up space in New York City, opening so-called dark stores in retail spaces vacated during the pandemic. They needed numerous locations to meet a goal of delivering orders in as little as 15 minutes.

Some New York City landlords and politicians have pushed back, saying fast-delivery companies kill foot traffic in retail corridors and plague residential areas with e-bikes.

City Council member Gale Brewer has asked the Department of Buildings and Department of City Planning to examine potential zoning issues, claiming the repurposed storefronts act like warehouses in retail-zoned areas.

But investors and consumers have been more effective in stopping the proliferation of dark stores. Many of the startups have seen their share prices plummet in recent months and are scrambling to reduce their burn rate as they run low on cash. DoorDash stock is down 76 percent in the past six months.

[Newsday] — Holden Walter-Warner