Final preparations were under way Wednesday as the newest Kroger Marketplace store geared up for this morning's official opening.
The new store in Village at Coventry, 5725 Coventry Lane, had a special invitation-only event Wednesday evening, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 8 a.m. today when it opened. Wednesday afternoon, Kroger employees arranged displays, performed final price checks and swept the aisles. In the sushi area, chefs cut up fish and prepared sushi. Over in the bakery, employees arranged crusty, freshly baked peasant loaves in rustic baskets.
John Elliott, manager of public affairs and media spokesman for Kroger, said the new store is essentially identical to the Dupont Road store, which opened in September 2011. Some of the individual departments might vary a little in size, but the products are the same. The square footage of both stores is more than 127,244 square feet.
The store will carry many of the same things the old smaller Scott's store it demolished last year on the same site had, but with a much better selection. A bistro has a team of Kroger chefs, a sandwich station, a full-service sushi bar, beverage central and large café for in-store dining, artisan breads, gourmet desserts, upscale cakes and a build-you-own cupcake station. There is also an upscale wine department and an increased selection of beer and spirits staffed by a wine steward.
The new pharmacy has a drive-through window and clinical services. Just like the Dupont store, the Village at Coventry store is a mix of general merchandise: bed and bath, toys, kitchenware, household décor, furniture, household appliances and a Fred Meyer Jewelers.
Elliott said the Dupont store has been ahead of where it was expected to be in sales. The store has been setting companywide sales records for a number of products, including the most sushi sales in its first week open.
“We expect similar success in terms of hitting the overall business plan (at the new store). What remains to be seen is to what extent this second store might pull a little bit of the business away from the other one,” Elliott said. “The market data tells us that this store should at least be pulling its business plan.”
The total economic investment in the new store is nearly $13.69 million.
According to Elliott, the store will add new jobs and provide employment for former Scott's workers at the same location, Kroger workers from the store across Jefferson Boulevard that is now closed and relocated sales employees from the North Anthony Scott's store that closed in May for roof problems. Elliott said the company's traditional stores employ a staff of 75-100 people, while the new Marketplace store employs 340. Cincinnati-based Kroger bought the city's Scott's Foods stores in 2007.
As part of Kroger's ongoing commitment to the community, it will donate $2,000 to Fort Wayne Trails and support Francine's Friends with a $2,000 donation for mobile mammography.
Elliott said the company has committed to giving Community Harvest Food Bank $25,000 per year for the next two years in support of its capital campaign – an increase over what Kroger has given in the past. Kroger will also match up to $12,500 per year in the annual “Share Your Feast” food drive for 2013 and 2014.
This would bring the total commitment to $75,000 over two years, plus whatever amount customers and associates choose to donate during food drives. Kroger has set a goal of $100,000 by the end of 2014.