H-E-B Plus remodel means new items, added convenience


July 8, 2010 at 2:08 a.m.

Wayne Waida, of Victoria, shops at the local H-E-B Plus on Navarro Street. The store employees have rearranged much of the store.

Wayne Waida, of Victoria, shops at the local H-E-B Plus on Navarro Street. The store employees have rearranged much of the store.

Looking for grilling supplies inside H-E-B Plus? They're no longer along the edge of the store, but in the center.

And toys? You'll find them up front, where the furniture section once was.

These moves and others are part of a store-wide remodel that's been under way since June 7.

As the store neared its fourth anniversary, it was time to step back and take a look at the layout, said Doug Wallace, the store's general manager.

"The premise of the plus stores is to continue to find the ultimate shopping experience for customers," he said. "The motivator behind it was making this an even better place to shop, to help them find what they want and in an easier fashion."

The project should be complete within the next few days.

Two main benefits come from the change, Wallace said.

It allows the store to introduce thousands of new items and helps with holding capacity. H-E-B Plus can now do a better job at staying in stock.

The company began the changes by evaluating data, Wallace said. It looked at sales categories, determining what had and hadn't performed well, and performed focus groups, taking customer thoughts and opinions into consideration.

The overall process has been more than six months in the making.

As the move progressed, H-E-B stationed employees throughout the store to help with shopper questions and printed up directories to help people locate items, Wallace said. A map is in the works to give shoppers a better visual of the layout.

Change is good every once in a while, even when it comes to grocery store layouts, said Dolores Cooper, who works as a private sitter in Victoria.

Cooper, who frequents H-E-B Plus about three times a week, said the store needed a change. Even if she didn't know where everything was while the remodel was going on, the directories the store handed out helped.

"Once you learn it again, you're back on track," said Cooper, who admitted she likes change. Even during bingo nights, she said, she'll swap her card out five or six times.

Not everyone is thrilled with the renovations.

Store management has spoken with some customers who were frustrated by the changes, Wallace said, explaining the store has tried to make it as smooth a transition as possible.

"A lot of folks have the misconception that we undertake projects to make it more confusing or make them stay in the store longer," he said. "But it's an attempt to make it better, more exciting and an easier place to shop."

Maria Dikanoski prefers the H-E-B on Rio Grande Street because she knows where things are. She visits the larger site with Cooper, she said, and thought she'd figured out where most items were located.

"Now, they've changed it again," Dikanoski said.

Every store must make tweaks here and there, she said, but the Rio Grande site seems to do it less than others.

"I like my store," she said.



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