By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor
PINE TOWNSHIP —
In the fashion world it’s called a makeover. In business it’s known as an upgrade.
Whatever you want to call it Grove City County Market looks much different than it did at the start of the year. Owned by the Knopp family the supermarket has literally been improved from floor to ceiling.
“We asked our customers what they wanted and we did our homework on this,’’ said Dave Knopp Jr., the store’s co-owner.
No.1 among the customer wish list was to have their groceries bagged.
“That was a bit of a surprise for us,’’ Knopp said. “Before, we would do it if a customer requested it. Now we’ll do it all the time unless the customer tells us otherwise.’’
All new checkout lanes were installed featuring ergonomically designed cash registers so that the cashier can always face the customer. A large computer screen will show each purchase and the price as the cashier scans it. And yes, there is a spot specifically created to allow shoppers to write a check at the checkout station.
Set for a grand opening on Sunday, the store remained opened while construction was underway which at time presented difficulties, Knopp said. Yet the store was able to operate with little inconvenience to shoppers.
“I give a lot of credit to our managers and our employees,’’ Knopp said. “I set a goal and they met it.’’
In looking around the store County Market increased the number of organic and locally grown items, a response from customers.
“We use local farmers whenever we can,’’ Knopp said.
Like elsewhere, prices for organic products are higher due to the cost for meeting legal requirements in having it certified. However, a product can be labeled “natural’’ which can have all the requirement of an organic product but it doesn’t have the certified label.
County Market’s produce section got a major makeover with a more open look and wood-like decor. New items include cut fruit with a much larger section devoted to produce.
One area that got a big boost in products was the cheese section.
“Customers asked for that,’’ Knopp said. “We doubled the number of cheeses from 150 to 300. People are really passionate about their cheese.’’
Other improvements to the store include its deli and a larger gluten-free section. A new addition to the store is an international aisle that customers sought.
“I think this all goes back to all of the cooking shows you now see on TV,’’ Knopp said. “People are trying new and interesting things.’’
The bakery also got improvements as new talent was brought in to bake pies, cakes and cupcakes from scratch — including ice cream cakes.
“Our gourmet cupcakes are a huge seller right now,’’ Knopp said.
County Market’s cafe also got improvements where shoppers can get hot and cold food to go and salad and antipasto bars were added in the store.
Shoppers will also find the floral department got an upgrade so they can get a flower arrangement for any occasion from weddings to funerals. Another section offers bulk products such as candy, granola and steel cut groats.
In reflecting on the major project, Knopp recalled he was with his dad in 1984 when the store first opened in his father still works with him at the store.
“We’ve now been able to bring the store to this level which was always our goal,’’ Knopp said. “I’m excited for our customers and feel blessed at being able to do business at a town like this.’’