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Newest Hy-Vee opens with smaller footprint, fresh features


PLYMOUTH, MN — The newest Hy-Vee store in the Twin Cities market opened here Oct. 30 in a retrofitted former Cub Foods location.

“What I think is unique is that we are the first building for Hy-Vee in Minneapolis that was an existing building prior; the other nine were built from the ground up,” Store Director Rich Winans told The Produce News. “So we took our 57,000 square feet and we figured out how to maximize every inch within the building and offer the best of the best.”

This Hy-Vee is much smaller than the other nine stores in the Twin Cities, which all run between 85,000 to 95,000 square feet.PRODUCE-MANAGERAaron Cunningham, produce manager at Hy-Vee’s new Plymouth, MN, location.

“As far as offerings, I would say we have almost everything that those stores do,” said Winans. “We tried to utilize every inch of space that we could to make it easier for the shopper and also to make it the most efficient. We can give our customers everything they want.”

The new store carries about 32,000 products and 750 fresh produce items, including more than 190 homegrown and organic items. Plus, the layout of the produce department is different than most other Hy-Vee stores.

“With this floor plan, they went with a bin style, whereas other stores are designed with tables,” Produce Manager Aaron Cunningham told The Produce News. “I think the reason they did this was to low profile everything so you can see what is going on in this smaller concept of a store. It appears there is a lot of space but that is probably an optical illusion. You can see everything from the front to the back, which allows you to see all this variety. In the usual L-shaped design, the department is much wider and customers can feel that the produce is surrounding them. But this layout is more of a galley style, which is more convenient for shoppers as they are going through the store and it looks really efficient. The galley style is much longer and it looks like it keeps going and going — aisles for miles.”

Other new features at this Hy-Vee are the Market Grille Express — a downsized version of the Market Grille Restaurant — and the in-store tablet kiosks, where customers can order and pay for their prepared food.

“We don’t have the full-service restaurant, we have the Express with its pared-down menu. It’s got burgers, appetizers, kids’ options and a couple of desserts,” Winans said. “You can order from the app and tell them when you want to pick it up. Then you just pull up, come in, pick up your bag and you’re out the door.”

In addition to the Market Grille Express, Hy-Vee has an area with fast-casual dining, charcuterie, the Sweet Shoppe and more.

“Menu-wise, with all the offerings from the Hickory House Kitchen to the Hibachi Asian Grill, the salad bar and the made-to-order sushi, I think there is a real need for high-quality, prepared food you can take home that isn’t fast food,” noted Winans.

Hy-Vee also integrates its HealthMarket throughout the store, so within each department shoppers are alerted to items that are all natural or gluten-free.

“Here in Plymouth, we are going to offer the freshest products and we are going to be the best of the best in the industry. We like to set the standard,” Cunningham stated. “The strategy is to have a smile in every single aisle, every single day, and it’s worked for the last 85 years.”