Eau Claire store is the retailer's fourth in the state
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. – More than 700 shoppers were lined up outside this town’s newest supermarket when the doors opened at 6 a.m. today. The grand opening afforded customers a first glimpse at the amenities, innovations and partnerships that operator Hy-Vee Inc. has incorporated into an “entirely reimagined” grocery store.
The 92,000-square-foot store is the product of a $27 million investment to develop a state-of-the-art store at the site of a former Kmart in Eau Claire, and represents Hy-Vee’s ongoing efforts to stay ahead of market conditions and consumer expectations.
“We’re always trying to be where the customer is going, maybe even before they want us to be,” CEO Randy Edeker said prior to the grand opening.
Since being named chairman and CEO nearly a decade ago, Edeker has demonstrated an eagerness to try new things and keep what works. Innovations at the Eau Claire store include:
● Digital integration: Shoppers can scan QR codes scattered around the store to discover what’s on sale; digital kiosks let shoppers access banking services, check their hearing, or order items ranging from birthday cakes to running shoes; more than 100 flat-screen monitors provide shoppers with marketing information or product ideas; Scan and Go technology lets shoppers pay for the items in their shopping baskets and skip the checkout line.
The Eau Claire store and a similar outlet that opened two weeks earlier in Grimes, Iowa, are the first two large stores in the U.S. to allow contactless checkout, Edeker said. Digital features help the retailer connect with consumers accustomed to using their phones to research products and order merchandise.
● Showrooming: Shoppers traversing the store’s perimeter encounter mini-departments, some of which offer merchandise from Hy-Vee partners, including DSW shoes, Joe Fresh apparel and Johnson Fitness & Wellness. Each showroom features a digital interface that lets shoppers get more information about the products displayed onsite as well as other offerings from the supplier, and to order products that will be delivered to the shopper’s home.
Adding to the perimeter’s mall-like atmosphere are storefronts ushering shoppers into partner businesses including The W Nail Bar and Hy-Vee departments including an expanded health and beauty section, the Candy Shoppe (featuring selections of premium, novelty and nostalgic confections) and Wine & Spirits, with walk-in coolers for beer and wine and selections from growing categories like whiskey and cognac. There’s also a walk-in humidor designed as a destination for cigar connoisseurs and those new to the experience.
● Dining experiences galore: The store features a large, open food hall for fast-casual dining, with options including Hy-Vee’s new breakfast menu; a pub with full bar and outdoor patio; and preparations from the likes of Mia Italian; HyChi; Nori Sushi; Market Grille Express; Long Island Deli; and a Wahlburgers at Hy-Vee.
The store also offers amenities that the company has become known for such as a full-service bakery including artisan and specialty breads, patisserie, cakes and cake decorator station; full-service delicatessen including shaved meats and cheeses, specialty cheese and charcuterie; a full-service meat counter including a Chef’s Station, dry aged steaks case, Chophouse and packaged meats; a full-service seafood counter with sustainable seafood options; an expanded HealthMarket featuring a larger selection of vitamins and sports nutrition options; a large fresh produce area; Starbucks coffee; expanded floral and gift shop; and pharmacy with drive-up lane.
Additionally, an adjacent Hy-Vee Fast and Fresh convenience store offers fresh on-the-go meal offerings, a Market Grille Express and select grocery staples including produce and bakery items.