If you happen to find yourself with a few idle days on your hands (How silly: Retailers seldom have a few extra days on their hands), you just might want to wander over to Des Moines, capitol of Iowa, to examine how Hy-Vee, one of the truly stunning retailers this or any country has to offer, gets it done.
Des Moines is easy to find. It’s smack in the middle of the country, easily accessible by air, turnpike or Amtrak, which occasionally stops there. Chicago’s close by, as are Kansas City, Omaha and other Midwest hubs.
But on to Hy-Vee. If you really care about how the very best get it done, this is the place to start. And the emporium to start with is almost any Hy-Vee supermarket. Rather than make food shopping a bore or a chore, this food retailer transforms it into an energizing, exciting experience. Enter any of the retailer’s 100,000-square-foot (give or take) supermarkets and you’re immediately greeted (or overwhelmed) by a group of staffers hired and trained (it seems) just to serve you.
Assortment? Name it. Groceries, specialty foods, live lobsters, a pharmacy (always a pharmacy), all manner of health and beauty care, in-store oasis to rest, relax, enjoy a snack, take a load off, all manner of checkout options — and always a helpful employee to advise you on what’s good, what’s special and what’s newest in grocery. To top it off, the store is organized and staffed as efficiently as a store one-tenth its size. Moreover, the supermarket is ablaze in color, light and appealing promotions, all telling the shopper that he or she would be foolish to pass them by.
Had enough? Wander into a Hy-Vee beer, wine and liquor store, one of several that Hy-Vee is opening in Iowa and elsewhere, like Chicago. The space, usually around 20,000 to 25,000 square feet, is more easily navigated. Or maybe not. If you can drink it, munch it, serve it or store it, the Hy-Vee liquor store carries it. Beer, wine and alcoholic varieties you never dreamed existed. And go-alongs you never would have dreamed of. And, as always at Hy-Vee, the helpful, knowledgeable staff, ready to tell you all about the newest beverage you never dreamed existed.
But, where Hy-Vee is the retailer, all this is just the beginning. For Des Moines, and all of Iowa and surrounding territories, is Hy-Vee country. You can shop a Hy-Vee convenience store, a Hy-Vee brand variety store, a Hy-Vee general merchandise store — at least it seems that way.
Who gets credit for all this? There’s more than enough to go around. But Hy-Vee people generally point to one person: Randy Edeker, the longtime leader who recently scaled back his participation. Or has he?
Edeker is that rare (or not so rare) retail leader who combines imagination, vision and a determination to try new things and improve on already existing (and working) concepts. To give you some idea of how capable he is, even his competitors admire him. If you doubt that, just ask the folks at H-E-B.
But don’t take my word for it. Give Randy a call. Tell him you’ll be on the 2:15 Amtrak limited to Des Moines. He’ll be happy to meet you at the station and show you around. Just tell him I sent you.