The Friday Checkout is a weekly column providing more insight on the news, rounding up the announcements you may have missed and sharing what’s to come.
Several grocers are looking to go beyond being customers’ one-stop shop for food essentials and also bring a theatrical element to the shopping experience.
Hy-Vee announced this week the opening of a store in La Crosse, Wisconsin, that includes a food hall with a number of fast-casual dining options from an expanded breakfast menu, a sit-down bar with 32 taps and an outdoor patio. It also has a number of restaurants, including Mia Italia, Long Island Deli, HyChi and Hibachi, Nori Sushi, Market Grille and Wahlburger at Hy-Vee.
Spanning 105,000 square feet, the store is a “totally reimagined grocery store with a new layout, the second of its kind in Wisconsin and fourth for the retailer overall,” the grocer said in a Tuesday press release.
This week, Sendik’s Food Markets opened a 60,000-square-foot store in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, with large cheese, wine and meat departments as well as an in-store garden that produces leafy greens for the store’s salad bar.
Though these experiences are primarily meant to be human-led, technology is also a factor in elevating the grocery shopping experience.
The La Crosse Hy-Vee location will feature all-digital shelf labels to put product information and pricing on display while also featuring Hy-Vee products, services and promotions on over 100 TVs around the store. For ordering cakes and fresh prepared foods as well as gaining access to Hy-Vee Financial Services, customers can visit digital kiosks. The store will also be equipped with Hy-Vee Scan & Go technology.
In September, Whole Foods Market’s new CEO, Jason Buechel, took to the stage at Groceryshop and announced a push for interactive grocery elements aimed at fostering a more “meaningful experience” for shoppers. This comes in a number of forms, many of which are showcased at the grocer’s Manhattan West market in New York (which Buechel mentioned specifically during his keynote), including a meat-cutting room where customers can watch the butchers, as well as an area where a certified cheese expert can walk customers through cheese pairings.
A trip to the supermarket has the potential to be a more enjoyable outing as companies lean into these interactive theater elements. When customers can be greeted by their favorite butcher, create their own specialty pizza to take home or even take a load off at a craft cocktail bar, the chore of grocery shopping won’t feel so taxing.
In case you missed it
Boxed growing its fresh grocery delivery business
The e-tailer, which started with a focus on bulk delivery, announced Monday the opening of a new fulfillment center supporting its fresh grocery delivery service, which stems from its acquisition of MaxDelivery last year. Boxed has since rebranded MaxDelivery as Boxed Market.
Located in Elmsford, New York, the facility will serve customers in Westchester County with a selection of more than 10,000 items and delivery in under an hour, according to the press release. This facility is larger than the existing Manhattan one as Boxed Market “has been steadily growing its selection and offerings to meet customer demand,” the announcement noted.
Up next, Boxed is planning to open its new Brooklyn, New York, location on Nov. 1. “All new warehouses will have a limited walk-in, with customers having an area where they can ‘click and collect’ their order, or have the order put together for them,” the company said.
Wisconsin grocer goes viral over its frozen pizza
A video of the extensive pizza selection at a grocery store in Wisconsin has received more than 6.1 million views on Twitter.
The tweet includes a one-minute video that takes viewers around a grocery store with freezer cases filled with hundreds of frozen pizzas from brands like Bellatoria, Home Run, Roma and many more.
The video was taken at a Woodman's Food Market location, according to NBC’s Today Show. Woodman’s President Clint Woodman told Today.com that the pizza section stocks 650 separate pizza facings and 50 different brands across 600 square feet.
A frozen pizza section in Wisconsin. pic.twitter.com/YDMOL4b7o3— Michael Bradley (@MikeBradleyMKE) October 13, 2022
Today.com dubbed the pizza selection “The Great Midwestern Pizza Concentration of 2022” and noted that Wisconsinites consume the most frozen pizza per capita in the country (according to Nestlé).
Save A Lot taps into a celebrity singer’s starpower
The discounter announced earlier this week that customers at its store in Lexington, Tennessee, got a “surprise” two-hour appearance from Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Gary LeVox.
LeVox, known for being the lead vocalist of the contemporary country music band Rascal Flatts, took photos with fans, signed autographs and helped distribute gift cards that will cover the cost of groceries for customers.
While this celebrity visit was planned between Save A Lot and LeVox, the press release noted the partnership came about organically between the musician and discounter.
“This partnership between LeVox and Save A Lot started after he visited his local store in Nashville. As the singer songwriter was shopping the aisles of the store, he recognized his song, ‘My Wish,’ over the speakers and captured that moment for his TikTok followers,” Save A Lot, noting that video garnered nearly 6 million views — that’s nearly as many as the Wisconsin frozen pizza one.
Number of the week: $9.6 million
That’s how much the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says Dollar General should pay in fines to settle a growing number of workplace safety violations at its stores. The amount includes nearly $1.7 million in proposed penalties, the agency said Monday, and it has added to the retailer’s tab after inspectors discovered hazards like disorderly storage areas at four Dollar General locations in Alabama, Florida and Georgia in April.
OSHA said that since 2017 it has conducted 182 inspections at Dollar General stores nationwide where inspectors have often found “unsafe conditions that put workers' safety at risk if they need to exit quickly in an emergency.”
Will a third Trader Joe’s store unionize?
Trader Joe’s associates at a store in Brooklyn, New York, are set to vote next Wednesday and Thursday on whether to unionize as part of Trader Joe’s United, according to the National Labor Relations Board. If the workers, who filed plans to hold the election last month, decide to join the labor group, they will join Trader Joe’s workers at two stores in Massachusetts and Minnesota who have already opted to collectively bargain with the grocery chain.
Amazon reports earnings
The e-commerce giant will disclose its second-quarter financial performance on Thursday. Federal regulators are likely to take the company’s sizable grocery operations into consideration as they assess the impact on the food retailing market of Kroger’s recently announced plan to acquire Albertsons.
Walmart holds responsible sourcing discussion
Also on Thursday, Walmart will host an online discussion about its responsible sourcing strategy. Kristen Albertson, the retailer’s vice president of global responsible sourcing, and Karrie Denniston, senior director of Walmart.org, will speak during the event.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated when Trader Joe’s workers in Brooklyn, New York, are scheduled to vote on whether to unionize. The election is scheduled for Oct. 26 and 27.