East Village gets futuristic grocery store designed by Accel Robotics

Accel Robotics designed the grab-and-go, cashier-less store in East Village.
(Courtesy of Accel Robotics)

Called Valet Market, the cashier-less store uses computer vision and AI to know what you buy


A futuristic grocery store is opening in East Village on the ground floor of the luxury high-rise apartment complex Vantage Pointe.

The new store, called Valet Market, was designed by local tech startup Accel Robotics, and it contains no cashiers or checkout kiosks. Instead, the market allows shoppers to walk in, grab items off shelves, and walk back out — with all items automatically charged to the shopper’s account.

Accel does this through a mobile app that shoppers can download and set up payment methods through. For security, the store is gated and requires the app to unlock it. The app anonymously tracks the individual as they move throughout the store, and sensors built into shelves signal to Accel which items the person picks up. This allows shoppers to literally grab and go.

The store, at 1241 Ninth Ave., will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., but for residents of the Vantage Point apartments, it will be accessible 24 hours.

Accel aims to build these small markets in large apartment complexes all over the world, offering residents a super convenient spot to pick up essentials.

“Through the whole pandemic people were rethinking where they would be doing their work from,” said Accel co-founder and CEO Brandon Maseda. “While people will probably go back to work eventually, many will be at home often. So we’re trying to provide convenient options in those environments.”

The market is designed to be a “shared pantry for the neighborhood,” the startup said, with produce, baked goods and dairy, alongside everyday convenience items like toothpaste and mouthwash. The market will also be integrated with a delivery service, allowing residents of Vantage Pointe to order delivery straight to their door.

The store is slated to open at the end of May.

Accel Robotics was founded in 2015 and was incubated early on by San Diego’s tech accelerator EvoNexus, along with a Texas-based incubator RevTech Ventures. The startup has raised $37 million from investors including Softbank, the largest tech fund in the world.

Broadly, the company plans to create these AI-empowered stores from scratch — and partner with existing retailers — to help bring small-format stores to locations that couldn’t accommodate larger buildings. Think universities, sports venues, military bases, convenience stores, pharmacies, and fuel stations.

Accel has grown its staff to 80 people with headquarters in San Diego, in addition to offices in Argentina and Tokyo.