The head brass at Neepawa-Gladstone Co-op have been promising to be bring a more spacious, welcoming and modernized grocery store to the area and – if first appearances are any indication – they've been able to achieve just that.
Co-op officially opened the doors Thursday to its Grocery Store now located just off Main Street (Highway 16), adjacent to its Co-op Gas Station and C-Store, and received what grocery manager Dan Lange has cited as being rave reviews.
“It's been excellent, everyone's been commenting about the extra space and selection we have now,” Lange said Friday. “It's been a really good start to 'the new life' already.”
Those increases in space and selection are among the new store's biggest selling points, and also among its most noticeable offerings.
Between 800 to 1,000 new items are now offered at the store, including a new Mexican foods section, increased Filipino food section, more easy prep items and improved baby needs section.
Meanwhile, the square footage is now about 17,000 – as compared to roughly 13,500 square feet at the former grocery store. Customers will also notice more space and accessibility as they peruse through the aisles as the top shelves are now lower, while there is an extra foot of space between aisles.
The new floor plan and layout is all part of a new design concept being rolled out across Manitoba – a concept that is debuting in Neepawa.
“This was built to the new standards. We are actually the first store in Manitoba built to these new standards, and now other stores will be modelled after us,” Lange noted.
Aside from customers, the employees are also noticing a difference.
A rear-loading dairy cooler will make life easier, while upgraded and larger meat and bakery prep. areas have already become employee favourites.
The larger store has also led to more employment, with about a dozen new employees brought on board because of the relocation.
The relocation was completed the weekend prior to opening, and saw about 50 people take part.
“We had our employees, but there were also Filipino volunteers and Neepawa Natives helping us, so we're very appreciative of that,” Lange noted.
A new administrative building built on the same site – to the South of the grocery store – was constructed in 2013 and opened in recent months.
The Co-op will now be offering weekly Handi-van rides to customers on Tuesdays to “reciprocate the loyalty to long-time customers...and make sure we're able to continue serving everyone.”