Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Indianapolis-style grocery shopping comes to Jonesboro


Morgan helped to represent the Jonesboro Public Library last night at the pre-opening preview of the new Kroger Marketplace and came home raving about the amazing range of products and features.

The store opened for business at 8 a.m. today. There was a promise of generous gift certificates for the first 100 shoppers. I thought about going for it, but decided there would probably be more than 100 hard-core shoppers who got there insanely early.

That said, I arrived about 8:10 a.m., so I was present during the first hour of operation.

It may seem mundane to most people, but this state-of-the-art Kroger supermarket is a very big deal for northeast Arkansas. As of this morning, Kroger dominates a local grocery market they previously shared with Bill’s Fresh Market, Harp’s, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Hays, Cash Saver, etc. This has to be a Maalox moment for the folks planning to open an Aldi supermarket a few blocks south of the new Kroger Marketplace.

newkroger05The place was crawling with Kroger employees eager to hand out maps of the store and guide you to whatever you wanted.

My first quest was for Kefir, a probiotic yogurt-like drink that occasionally appeared in the specialty dairy case at the old Kroger.

I tried the regular dairy section first, then asked a couple of Kroger guys in suits about it. They blinked like deer in the headlights, being unfamiliar with the product, and sent me off in the general direction of the specialty dairy case.

A helpful Kroger lady led me the last few yards to a plentiful supply of Kefir.

newkroger01I noticed there was a whole aisle full of heavily discounted weekly specials – this week aimed at Thanksgiving with cranberry stuff, nutmeg, sugar, yams, chicken broth, etc.

newkroger03The Deli section is impressive, with a salad bar, sushi, and an amazing olive bar.

newkroger02There’s even a smallish section of products commonly available in European markets, but rarely seen here, including Heinz Spotted Dick, a pudding that is popular in Britain.

There were free samples galore and I ended up buying $66 worth of stuff, including a $14.99 meat and cheese tray for Maria’s office.

And on my way out the door, a guy thrust a free package of Thomas’ English Muffins into my hands.

The new Kroger Marketplace has all of the essential elements of the Meijer and Marsh stores we have sorely missed since we moved here from Indiana. It almost feels like going home.

The only thing missing is beer and wine. The huge section occupied by bottled water makes me think they were ready to offer adult beverages if the statewide alcohol sales measure had succeeded in the election earlier this month.

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