Acme Fresh Markets is celebrating one of its most expensive store redos as the hometown grocer battles its food rivals.
At the expanded Norton store, the $9 million renovation means employees "have got both dukes up, ready to fight for the business” Acme President Jim Trout said.
The store at 3200 Greenwich Road, which dates to 1950, was too small, and despite changes over the years it had grown outdated, Trout said.
"We really felt like we were underserving our customers," he said at the store Tuesday, noting that the 67,000-square-foot location now includes an additional 15,000 square feet of retail space.
On Tuesday, light shone off green avocados and other food in the new airy produce section. It's been moved from the back of the store to the front, along with the deli/prepared food area, allowing for easy grab-and-go purchases. A new wood smoker is used to prepare pork and chicken.
Prepared foods are big with customers, Trout said, echoing grocers nationwide.
The layout is like that of Acme's 15 other locations. All of the Akron-headquartered chain’s original stores have now been renovated. The Green store opened in 2013.
The wine, beer and liquor area is now in a big space on one side of the building. With its tile floor and dropped ceiling it has a store-within-a-store feel. Previously, the booze section was a couple of aisles in the middle of the store. (The store has a state-regulated liquor section.)
Other key elements of the redo include the Acme chain's first pharmacy drive-thru. The meat and seafood section is about double its previous size, and a new bulk-foods section boasts a coin-operated horse ride for the kiddies.
The coolers and freezer cases are new. Fluorescent lighting has been replaced with high-efficiency LED lighting. The store now boasts three self-serve checkouts; previously it had none.
A ribbon-cutting is set for 5 p.m. Wednesday. Norton Mayor Mike Zita, who works at another Acme store, will cut the ribbon.
“I love the store,” customer Stanley Dodrill, 54, said Tuesday. ”It was kind of dull and drabby before.”
Now, he said, “it’s more open and there’s more variety and people [employees] are more cheerier.”
Katie McCarthy, who was shopping on Tuesday with her 4-year-old daughter, Bridget, and 3-year-old nephew, John Blosco, in tow, also gave a positive review.
“I like the hot food being right up front, and a little café [sitting area]," she said. "I like this entryway being a lot bigger.”
She’s noticed that with extra space there are additional items, including more products from Hartzler Family Dairy in Wooster.
Much of the additional retail space was created by expanding into storage space at the back of the store. Additionally, the store grew into two adjacent storefronts. Albrecht Inc. owns the Norton Plaza, the real estate company related to the Acme grocery store chain.
The store remained open during the redo, which began in November 2017.
“This was a lot of pain and suffering for our customers,” Trout said.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org