The Upper is not the Upper you’ve been imagining

Tupperware wants to jump from grandma’s cupboard into the cool kids’ homes and back again

In an age when everything from TVs to refrigerators to laptops look the same, a new food and gadget chain is aiming to change that with its quirky, homey take on the traditional store: the Upper. (Lower, for those who want to get the goods.) The company is hoping to shake up the home food aisle by offering items like wine racks, wine bars and ice cream and sorbet makers to shoppers’ kitchens. And the Upper’s first store, opening today in a suburban Atlanta mall, might just be its test kitchen. The first Upper, however, is not the Upper you’ve been imagining. No, it’s a much-needed kitchen remodel.

That’s because the latest Upper is not the Upper as you’re thinking of it in your head. It’s a family-run grocery store that’s as much about the kitchen as it is about the food. “There was a period when we were a very big, old-fashioned grocery store. And then we realized this was the only store, and we just had to change what we were doing to meet a changing consumer,” says Jim Sommers, the Upper’s co-founder and CEO. This isn’t the Upper as some people (including me) have envisioned it — it’s the Upper as they really, actually live in it.

The Upper, a 1,300-square-foot, three-story, full-service grocery store with more than 30 foods, a kids’ area and more than 10,000 products available, opened Wednesday in the former Borders bookstore at the Mall of America. It’s a $10 million location — the site of a Borders store that’s been torn down — and the Upper has already had major renovations. The store’s design, which Sommers says is inspired by the kitchen and living room — except in this case, the upper is the kitchen and the lower is the living room — is a departure from the Upper’s traditional look and feel. Upper’s kitchen cabinets are made from cherry wood and are painted white; its walls are a deep shade of brown. The ceilings are painted a deep shade of blue with silver accents. For a modern take on the Upper, here’s what Sommers has in store for his guests: Wine racks and wine bars, a pastry counter and a whole-food bakery; food from an all-new meat department and more;

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