Bigger is better in the new Dillons Westloop store, 1101 Westloop Place. The store, which opens Sunday at 7 a.m., will be 70,000 square feet in size, replacing the 48,000 square foot facility that has operated in Westloop for decades. It is also adding 70 employees, store manager Bob Stroble said.
The new Dillons is the latest presence in a significant ramp-up of the grocery store presence in Manhattan in recent years. Dillons initiated that ramp-up several years ago when it opened a large store on the city’s east side. That was followed a few years ago by the opening of an expanded Ray’s Apple Market in Village Plaza, and by a 70,000 square foot HyVee store in the north redevelopment area.
The new Dillons store is designed around customer feedback surveys, from both local and national customer bases. The aisles will not be in the same order that they were in the old Dillons.
One of the themes is wider aisle space.
Stroble, who has 41 years of experience at Dillons and 18 years in Manhattan, said the aisles are approximately two feet wider than in the previous store. Other new additions include: a gourmet cheese shop, a larger cafe dining area, a kitchen place, which will sell an array of small kitchen appliances such as toasters and microwaves and housewares items, and an expanded KSU Sports Fans Shop selection.
Additionally, the store will have a Magic Pop booth, where a gluten-free grain snack will be made in-house. While being cooked, the product will make a large popping sound.
The Magic Pop is just one of several new features designed to appeal to those who are into natural foods. A produce manager said the selection of organic foods has increased from 5,000 to 15,000 products. Customers can churn their own peanut and almond butter in the new Natural Markets section. There has also been an increase in the selection of international foods.
Dana Knott, director of advertising for Dillons, said that the organic market is an important one for the Manhattan demographic.
“That’s what college students are really into right now,” Knott said. “Everyone wants to be eating healthier.”
Not only is the store going to have an increased selection of organic foods, it will have an increased sustainability too. It is expected to use 15 percent less energy than an average Dillons store.
The store will have a number of a give-aways on its grand opening for Sunday. There will also be appearances by the K-State cheerleading squad and Willie the Wildcat at 3 p.m. Daily prizes will be awarded to the first 250 customers during the store’s opening week, April 16-21.
Knott does not know how many customers she expects on the store’s opening day.
“We are going to be hammered,” she said. “People are really excited.”