Fred Meyer is looking to appeal to foodies with a multi-million dollar renovation of its Richland store that includes a revamped wine and brew shop, grocery pick-up service and a new Starbucks.
The $12.4 million Fred Meyer store remodel is under way and expected to finish by mid-September.
It’s the Wellsian Way store’s first remodel in more than a decade and it will transform the inside of its current footprint. The store opened in November 1981.
The home department will decrease by more than a third, while the grocery department will increase by nearly half.
Freddy’s will remain open during construction, but some sections may be inaccessible at times.
The process will look like a “big jigsaw puzzle,” said Zach Stratton, Fred Meyer spokesman.
While one portion of the store is closed to customers, items from that section will be relocated elsewhere in the store. While the puzzle pieces are moved around, it’s possible some departments will offer a limited selection, but no entire department is scheduled for a temporary closure.
The Fred Meyer electronics shop will be replaced with a beverage shop called Freddy’s Cork and Tap.
It will be accessible through the entrance near the home department, and electronics will be integrated into the rest of the store.
The “bottle shop” is intended to resemble the interior of a sports bar, though no full drinks will be poured.
Customers will be able to taste beers before filling a growler and choose from a more extensive selection of microbrews, wine and liquor.
The new and improved beverage department also will offer samplings with craft brewers, wine makers or distillers who will highlight their products.
Freddy’s Cork and Tap will feature its own dedicated registers so shoppers may quickly stop in to make purchases without venturing into the main store.
Shoppers can avoid setting foot in the store altogether when Fred Meyer brings its “Click List” online grocery ordering program to the Richland store.
The free service allows customers to place an order in the morning and have their bagged groceries brought directly to their car by the afternoon. This is expected to be a first-of-its-kind offering for the Tri-Cities, as Walmart grocery pickup and Amazon Fresh are currently unavailable in the region.
Store Manager Chris Meagher said orders can be made via an app and paid for ahead of time. When Click List customers arrive at the store, they will use parking spots reserved for grocery pickup. Customers then will simply press a button on a stand to indicate their arrival, and a store employee will bring the bagged purchases directly to the car. There is no fee to use the service but a $50 minimum order is required.
Some Fred Meyer locations offer a next-day pickup service, but the remodeled Wellsian store will have same-day pickup.
Stratton said the service is completely customizable in the same way a shopper would select their own produce. “If you order four bananas, you can specify that three should be yellow and one should be green, and your order will be fulfilled that way,” he said.
Fred Meyer said the changes and improvements are being prompted by the demands of its customers, who are asking for more fresh produce, organics, meat and seafood. This includes an increase in the store’s nutrition center, with an expanded supply of vitamins, gluten-free products, bulk foods and locally-sourced brands.
By positioning itself as a destination for Tri-City foodies, the store will offer an open counter for its meat and seafood, resembling a butcher shop. Customers can request a desired cut of meat and have their order filled on the spot.
The seafood section also will greatly increase in size, growing its supply of fresh fish from a current three feet to 20 feet of refrigerated space.
Fred Meyer won’t limit itself to providing ingredients needed to make meals at home, either.
It will expand the choices of fully-prepared meals and more seating to dine on the spot. This includes a burrito bar, sushi counter and brick pizza oven for fresh meals prepared while customers wait.
The bakery also will increase in size to include more artisanal breads and high-quality desserts. The store also aims to meet the need of every customer, providing the option of buying just one roll or a dozen.
A Starbucks will return to the Richland Fred Meyer after the coffee shop closed a location on site last summer. The new Starbucks will be built inside the store, in the spot where a bank branch once stood near the southern entrance.
It will offer indoor seating near the revamped deli. The former Starbucks outside the store operated alongside a hair salon, nail salon, dry cleaners and an annex of the Benton County Auditor’s Office. Fred Meyer officials didn’t expect any of these tenants to be affected by the remodel, and all businesses are expected to remain in their current locations.
Fred Meyer Jewelers will remain in the same spot but will also undergo an extensive remodel, resulting in a whole new look.
The store is aiming to create the feel of a “high end” department store at both the jewelry counters and in neighboring departments.
The pharmacy also will remain in its current location, but will double in size by expanding into the space behind the counter, an area currently not seen by customers. This will accommodate a consulting area so patients may sit down with a pharmacist and ask questions.
The Playland child care area next to the pharmacy will be replaced by a larger floral department, including a floral counter with the opportunity for customizable arrangements. The Richland Fred Meyer will have the ability to provide flowers for large orders, like weddings, as well as smaller bouquets for prom or homecoming.
The parking lot layout is expected to remain the same, though a few spots near the auditor’s office and dry cleaners will be reserved strictly for Click List customers picking up their online orders. Store entrances will be reconfigured, but their orientations will not change.
Even as the puzzle pieces move around during the remodel, the registers will be located in the same place and the store will add more self-check out stations.
After six months of remodeling, the Richland Fred Meyer will not resemble its former appearance, or even the updated look found at the Kennewick location on West Tenth Avenue. Fred Meyer stores are remodeled every 10 to 12 years and the Kennewick location isn’t due for one yet.
Exterior painting is already underway in Richland, covering some of the tan walls with an olive green.
The store it will look most similar to is the Spokane Valley location on East Sprague Avenue. Remodeled departments may open for use as they are available, including Freddy’s Cork and Tap and Starbucks.
In September, the Richland Fred Meyer plans to show off its entire facelift with grand re-opening specials and gift card giveaways.
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