Hy-Vee is known for trying new things in the marketplace.
So when store directors in greater Omaha saw the sheer quantity of patio and grill inventory destined for their locations this spring, they pitched the idea of a metro-area pop-up shop.
The Hy-Vee Patio & Grill Outlet opened in March at Shadow Lake Towne Center in Papillion, near one of the retailer's grocery stores in an area booming with new home construction.
Chris Higginbotham, project manager for the outlet, said the 20,000-square-foot retail space offers a selection that goes beyond what’s available at individual Hy-Vee stores.
The core products are patio sets, umbrellas, chairs and grills — everything needed to create a “total outdoor living space.”
Yard art is plentiful, too, with whimsical barnyard animals and insects selling especially well, Higginbotham said.
Ditto for children’s lawn chairs and patio furniture in animal themes (think frogs, ladybugs and monkeys).
Grill styles range from Traeger wood pellet barrel grills to portable charcoal options.
The outlet also carries dining and bistro sets and has coordinating seat cushions for individual pieces and sets.
But what really stands out is the sea of chairs, from colorful Adirondack, to slingback and zero-gravity styles, to rocking chairs and folding camping seats.
“We started with over 10,000 chairs,” Higginbotham said.
The plan is to keep the outlet open through Memorial Day, and most likely into June — or until most of the inventory is sold. “Ultimately, what’s left will go back to the stores and they’ll continue to sell it,” Higginbotham said.
This is the Des Moines-based grocery chain's first experience with a pop-up store. The concept is being tested in Iowa as well. Hy-Vee's other innovations include in-store Market Grille restaurants, checkout lane indicator lights and fulfillment centers for online grocery orders.
“Our goal with the outlet store is to offer affordable, quality furniture,” Higginbotham said. “When you think lawn furniture or grills, you don’t just think, ‘Let’s go to Hy-Vee and get one.’ But we’re trying to get everybody to know that you never know what you’re going to find at a Hy-Vee.”