The Chinese food, the customer service, the in-house prepared brats and the discount on fuel for buying groceries are just some of the many things Midwesterners bring up when asked why there’s so much fandom for the Hy-Vee grocery store.
The Iowa-based chain has nearly 300 stores throughout the Midwest and now plans to bring its offerings outside the region and into four new states: Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee and Alabama.
The immediate goal is to open seven new stores and the company’s fourth distribution center by 2023, with the eventual goal of adding more than 20 new stores within the next four years.
Of those first seven stores, the locations include:
- Nashville (two stores)
- Knoxville, Tennessee
- Huntsville, Alabama
So what’s to love about the grocery store that serves as Iowa’s largest private employer? Here are some of the most-cited reasons:
Dine-in and carry-out options
While each store varies in its extra amenities, many Hy-Vee’s have food counters and restaurants that offer a wide range of meal options — often discounted under daily specials.
Among the most sought-after options is the grocery’s Chinese food counter. You can also regularly find a pizza counter, a massive salad bar and American staples such as fried chicken and meatloaf.
Additionally, at locations with dine-in restaurants, there’s often a full-service bar that notoriously runs great happy-hour specials. The ability to drink a cold Busch Light before crossing items off their grocery list has major appeal for many Hy-Vee shoppers.
Come holiday time, the store’s catering department offers several meal options depending on each family’s needs — offering full-course prime rib, turkey and ham dinners.
A bountiful meat department
For those wanting to churn out an impressive dinner — especially on the grill — Hy-Vee’s meat department offers many preseasoned options.
From stuffed mushrooms and stuffed pork chops, to twice-baked potatoes, Kebabs, and marinated chicken breasts, the store’s staff stock the department up with main course and side dishes that are ready to hit the flames.
Aside from the full-service meat department, the store offers a full-service bakery. Families can order specialized cakes and breads, and request freshly made pizza dough and pasta noodles.
Save money on gas with Fuel Savers
Hy-Vee’s Fuel Saver + Perks program is available to all customers and can be joined by supplying a cashier with your phone number.
Purchasing certain items throughout the store allows shoppers to collect discounts on fuel at multiple convenience stores. Periodically, stores will offer larger savings, such as a 50-cent discount per gallon if $30 in fresh produce is purchased.
According to Hy-Vee, the program has saved customers $64,594,044 on fuel since the start of 2021.
Members can collect their points at Hy-Vee’s gas stations, as well as at Casey’s, Shell Stations, Sinclair Stations and Kwik Trip.
‘A helpful smile in every aisle’
For decades, Hy-Vee’s emphasis on customer service has been the center of the chain’s messaging.
“A helpful smile in every aisle,” has been Hy-Vee’s slogan since 1963.
“The reason it has endured is because Hy-Vee delivers on what it promises. Now more than ever people want the human experience and the human touch, and this brings it to them,” said Mary Edrington, associate professor of practice in marketing at Iowa’s Drake University when the slogan turned 50.
Often situated in neighborhoods rather than large retail areas, many shoppers appreciate the hometown atmosphere within the aisles.
“Its slogan, “A Helpful Smile in Every Aisle,” expresses the foundation of the company’s operating philosophy,” its website states.
Contact reporter Krista Johnson at [email protected].