For months and months, I think complaining about construction at the Hy-Vee grocery stores in Lee’s Summit almost became an Olympic sport.
Yes, the cat food was hard to find. Yes, the cacophony of hammering, sawing and drilling in the evenings made for a less-than-stellar shopping experience (unless you were my daughter, who loved to give me weekly progress updates, as if she had some inside track about the construction). And, yes, change is hard.
God, is it hard. For some.
While a reinvestment and redevelopment story should resonate well in a community like Lee’s Summit — a community that has seen hundreds of millions of dollars in development over the last two years — that’s a hard sell. It’s seemingly far more difficult to pitch the “hey, a little inconvenience will lead to a much better shopping experience, more dining options in Lee’s Summit and an aesthetically pleasing storefront” storyline.
Griping is always a little easier. Maybe more therapeutic. I’m not sure.
But man, when Hy-Vee — both East and West locations — decided to (literally) move everyone’s cheese, it made for some damn fine social media entertainment, if not, some outright anger.
I found it all more than a little amusing. When Addy used to ask me why they were doing all the construction, I would explain to her that people far wiser than us came up with a plan to expand services and options inside the store and, ultimately, make better use of the footprint.
Honestly, she would zone out pretty early into my explanations. At one point she offered this gem: “They should just have a speaker that you talk into when you come in and say what you want and someone delivers it to you.”
That’s called home delivery, honey. They already do that. But good thinking.
Addy and I were with Hy-Vee East before, during and after the rebuild. In fact, those times make me harken back to my childhood grocery shopping days at Food Barn, when we would beg to go to the store so we could play video games in the front while mom shopped. If we ran out of quarters before she was done, we would search the store and “help” her finish shopping.
The grocery store was and is a family occasion for some. Addy and I have spent more than one Saturday night at Hy-Vee, Big Lots, Target, casually pushing the cart, repeatedly shooting her down on impulse purchases and just generally enjoying the company.
Those times during the Hy-Vee construction will be always in my memory as some fun ones with my daughter, if not for some mild humor and irritation over narrow aisles and where the heck the foil might be this week.
I would say the store and its employees did their best during those trying times, especially when they were sporting the orange construction shirts. You almost must point out the absurdity of the situation and have a little fun with it.
In reality, the situation wasn’t likely absurd in the least to those in management at Hy-Vee. An inside-out reboot of this chain will keep them competitive in a market that has seen new grocery options crop up the last few years in Lee’s Summit.
Our next grocery opportunity for those that want to pursue it? A small market in downtown Lee’s Summit.
Lee’s Summit resident John Beaudoin writes about city and civic issues, people and personalities around town. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.