Modern Retail Vanguard   //   August 16, 2023

Modern Retail Vanguard: Vito Antoci, Erewhon

The inaugural Modern Retail Vanguard list highlights the behind-the-scenes talent propelling the world’s top retail brands. To read more about who else we selected and why, click here.

Erewhon reviews more than 300 new products a month, determining whether or not they are a right fit for the high-end grocer’s nine stores. Those that are chosen, then work with executive vice president Vito Antoci, who helps make sure the brands pop with shoppers. And he’s not shy to say that he holds a lot of sway. “Every person comes to Erewhon today to discover new products,” he says. “People come to Erewhon as status.”

He isn’t wrong. Erewhon has always been a beloved West Coast natural food destination, but in the last year, it has cemented its place as the high-end grocery destination for up-and-coming brands. If they get a spot in the store, it bodes well for their future.

Antoci’s mandate is to handle marketing for new brands. He also deals with larger-scale collaborations, working with brands and celebrities on special edition products that are intended to go viral. One example is Erewhon’s smoothie program, which produces influencer-affiliated smoothies. It started with the online star Tinx, who Antoci describes at the time of the first collab as “little known.” “She’s actually very well known now,” he adds, referring to her more than 1.5 million followers on TikTok. The program has become one of Erewhon’s social media mainstays. It launched one smoothie with Hailey Bieber last year – Antoci says the company has sold nearly 600,000 of these — which each go for about $20 a pop.

Erewhon’s success lies in making something as ordinary as groceries into a luxury destination. Much of it has been accidental — merely operating a beloved high-end Los Angeles grocery chain can emit a certain aura, if the clientele is right. But Antoci has been integral in building upon Erewhon’s organic success.

As the person behind the grocer’s marketing onboarding program, he’s in charge of making sure that no product remains stagnant on the shelves. Every new brand in the program is promoted via numerous channels – like newsletters and social – and also heavily featured in the store via placements like hand-painted signs. 

“I have a litany of marketing opportunities for every single brand,” he says. The first step, however, is getting in the door. After that, your brand can join the party. And soon, it will transcend the West Coast — Antoci says Erewhon will expand to New York within the next few years. 

“We are the place you need to sell at to be recognized,” Anotci says. “You go to our Beverly Hills store on a weekend and it’s like a nightclub — people are pouring out onto the street… It’s a destination.”