MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon Kroger store received a make-over and they didn’t have to close their doors. Remodeling began in February. Walls were painted, the ceiling raised, new cases installed, and much more was accomplished while the store remained open. Wednesday, the store held an Open House to celebrate.
The event was held from 4 to 6 p.m. and many Kroger officers and managers were in attendance to welcome Mount Vernon customers. Enter-to-win opportunities, including 10 $100 Kroger gift cards; face painting and balloon artistry for children; music; and many food sampling opportunities added to the festivity.
The store is managed by Lynne Spencer, who enjoyed interacting with visitors. Jackie Seikmann, Media Relations with the Westerville home office, pointed out subtle changes like the removal of the old tile floor and the new polished concrete floors.
Vice President of Operations Dennis Gibson explained that Kroger likes to keep stores refreshed and tries to remodel stores about every 10 years. The remodeling is also somewhat personalized. “This is one of our top three organic stores,” he explained, noting that customers polled requested more organic foods.
Howard McNelley has been a store co-manager for a short time and was enthusiastic about the changes. He explained that while the store didn’t expand its physical space, changes like rearranging the produce department gave the store a much more open, accessible feeling.
What is more important is the customers’ reactions. Gary Rucker of Apple Valley said, “It used to be like a 1940s style. I like the new look. It’s a great improvement and laid out better.”
Customers enjoyed sampling the variety of cheeses including the cheese with blueberries, beer cheese, merlot cheese, and a specialty provolone. The cheese will always be available to sample, but at the open house cannoli pastries were also available to try. The store now boasts a feast of gourmet desserts prepared by pastry chef Kayla Soma.
“This is beautiful,” said customer Sheliegh Conkle when she saw the pastry case, “I know my sweets and it’s all about presentation.”
Additions were numerous including more fish, a lobster tank, artisan breads, natural foods, and energy saving lights and cases in the efficiency category. And Customer Service is now Money Services, offering lower fees and higher check cashing limits, as well as other services.
Starbuck’s already had a regular following. Starbuck’s Lead Connie Dickerson said she and the staff can identify some customers’ orders as they stand in line. In addition to more space, Starbuck’s also offers flat screen TVs and WiFi.
Dr. Matt Price of Mount Vernon Nazarene University said the expanded area was “much more appealing.” It’s a good environment to meet with colleagues,” he said, “and you can pick up a few groceries, too.”
Continuing through the end of July, associates roam the store offering $1 rootbeer floats, raising money for Easter Seals. Seikmann said last year their 125-store division raised $125,000.