Free coffee and doughnuts, reusable shopping bags and balloons for the kids were the first of many handouts to shoppers celebrating an $11 million makeover of Fred Meyer's Fisher's Landing store in east Vancouver on Friday.
More festivities and giveaways are planned through the weekend, said Melinda Merrill, a spokeswoman for Portland-based Fred Meyer, which is owned by Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. The work relocated some store departments and created new ones while updating nearly all of the interior flooring, finishes and fixtures in the 20-year-old store. It is the second interior remodeling of the Fisher's Landing store, last updated in 2003. Its parking lot was reconfigured in 2001 to add a gas station.
This time construction lasted about 11 months, as crews enlarged the store's delicatessen and produce areas to accommodate new offerings carried by the 91-year-old food and variety chain.
The store's expanded product line of organic produce and healthier prepared food selections will help it better compete with grocery newcomers, such as New Seasons Market. The Portland-based grocer opened its first Vancouver store two years ago across the street from the Fisher's Landing Fred Meyer.
"Absolutely, New Seasons, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods are our biggest competitors," said Michele Pringle, deli manager at the Fisher's Landing Fred Meyer.
The chain's namesake, Fred. G. Meyer, practically invented the "one-stop shopping" concept.
Pringle expects customers to be drawn to the deli's new prepared food section, which includes new and healthier entrees and prepared salads, along with Fred Meyer's popular fried chicken and fried potato meals.
"We have a bigger salad case, a new lineup of salads and three in-store chefs," she said.
The section also features a large in-store kiosk and service counter for Fred Meyer partner, Murray's Cheese, a vendor of New York-style cheeses.
"We have over 175 cheeses," said Renee Howes, a cheese master for the company.
The remodel also included several additions to the store's dining area, including an electric fireplace and machines that make milkshakes and Slurpees. An in-store Starbucks Coffee was expanded, as was an existing sushi bar, operated by AFC Corp.
"This is one of the stores that really supports the sushi business," Pringle said. She added that many store product changes reflect an attempt to provide convenience to Fred Meyer's evolving customer base of busy, full-time workers.
"Our customers right now want to come in and pick up a healthy meal and now we have those options," she said.
Patrons also can pick up a flower arrangement at the store's new floral counter, a welcome sight, said Sonja Young of Vancouver.
"I like everything and I'm coming back in for sure. It is so neat," she said.
General contractor BooCo Construction of Portland was responsible for the remodel, which also removed the store's drop ceiling and added a system of skylights that reduces the amount of energy it takes to light the store. It is part of an energy-efficiency initiative adopted by Fred Meyer at least five years ago, Merrill said.