Village Pantry Gets a Makeover

First reimaged store signifies new beginning for chain and its foodservice

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

FISHERS, Ind. -- It's been yearsand in some cases, decadessince Village Pantry stores got a makeover. Thus it was with much excitement that the chain opened the doors on the first of what will be many reimaged stores this past weekend in Fishers, Ind.

The store managers came in and said, 'Oh, I can't believe this!' Mike Emmons, director of operations, told CSP Daily News. We told them what we were doing and showed them some of the mockups, but when they actually came in the store and saw it, they said, 'I can't wait till my store is this way.[image-nocss] ' So it's really, really exciting.

He added, Some of our district managers are coming through and looking at the store and they're asking, 'When can I get this going [at my stores]?'

The interior and exterior remodel is part of a companywide reimaging plan launched this month to take the chain from the 1970s and '80s into the 2000s, said Mick Parker, who joined the recently spun-off Indianapolis-based chain as CEO in May. We're adding new products, new services, new fixturing, new graphics and new signage.

Along with the remodel, the chain, formerly a sister company of Marsh Supermarkets and now owned by Sun Capital Partners, also is updating its foodservice offer with the goal of providing something for everyone.

We've really established what we need to be and what we can be, said Emmons. In some of our stores, we'll have limited offerings of bratwurst, hamburgers and roller-grill items. And where we can have the seating and parking, then we'll come in with the chicken program and the pizza program and have more of an offering. So a customer could literally come in five days a week and eat something different every day of the week.

Much of the foodservice growth is being driven by a new condiment bar that opens up opportunities for customization of sandwiches, according to vice president of merchandising and fuel Mike Ross.

In our first [remodeled] store, we're prototyping a build-your-own hamburger [program], he told CSP Daily News. This is a hamburger with a bun, on which the customer can add their own condiments: cheese, lettuce, pickles, onions, tomatoes, so they can build it to their own liking.

The condiments will also extend to the Johnsonville bratwurst and other sandwiches sold at the stores, and the chain is also expanding that have it your way ideology to other areas of the store.

One of the things that we're going to focus on is giving customers choices, said Ross. So in fountain, it'll be foam or plastic [cups], crushed ice or cubed. Same thing with coffee: paper or foam cups? We're trying to provide a differentiation for our customer and give them truly what they want when they want it.

Steve Holtz, CSP/Winsight By Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News
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