Hy-Vee @ Roch.'s Barlow Plaza near end of $5M renovation
Here's some from my piece on the Hy-Vee in today's dead tree edition:
Now that the dust is starting to settle and products like milk and canned tomatoes are not moving locations each week, Rochester’s Hy-Vee grocery store at Barlow Plaza will find out what the experts think of its yearlong, $5 million renovation.
The customers pushing carts along the new smooth, white floors past the longest meat counter in Hy-Vee’s chain, by the expanded international food section, around the still-under-construction organic produce area and many other additions or updates.
Will the changes and the addition of about $200,000 worth of products on the shelves pay off during a tough economic times? Hy-Vee certainly believes it will.
“It is all about the experience,” said Manager Mike Long, “We want to provide an upscale experience. There is no reason for anybody to go outside Rochester to shop.”
With popular high-end grocers such as Whole Foods, Lunds, Kowalski’s and Trader Joe’s in the Twin Cities attracting fans from here, keeping shoppers happy and in town is important.
“What were seeing that our grocers are — especially with the change in the economy — looking toward more what their customers are asking for. Looking for any way to niche or fit in or to draw that differentiator for their company,” said Jamie Pfuhl, president of the Minnesota Grocers Association.
When the grocery store first opened in 1969, it was Barlow Foods and it became a destination for local gourmet cooks due to its wide selection of products.
Hy-Vee took over the store in 1997 and this is the first major upgrade in more than 20 years.
During that time Weber & Judd always has had a small pharmacy tucked away inside the 77,600-square-foot store. But it was not easy to find.
“That was always the second-most asked question,” Long said. “’Where’s the pharmacy?’ I only heard, ‘Where are the toothpicks?’ more often.”
The pharmacy has since been moved to a much larger and more visible spot.
Now that he is not longer in a “hole in the wall,” pharmacist Peter Boldingh said he and his staff are busier than they ever have been.
Long describes the massive rebuild at thestore at 1315 Sixth St. N.W. simply as a response to what customers want.
Becca Tesch, who has shopped at the store for years, describes herself as “a loyal customer.”
While her 13-month-old son Miles enjoyed a cookie from the store bakery, she described how challenging the store construction has been.
“Sections would be some place different each week as they did work on different areas. You never knew where something was going to be. It was insane,” Tesch said.
However, it did not keep her from shopping there and pushing son around in the race car shopping carts.
“I’m excited to see it finished,” she said.