Shoppers moved slowly around the shiny aisles of the new Woods store on its opening day Monday, checking out all the new features.
Department managers from Woods corporate office were on hand Monday to help with the opening. Workers also helped customers find items, handed out a store directory with a map and answered questions about the new store.
The store in the shopping center in the 700 block of East Broadway Boulevard has expanded all departments as its space increased from 28,000 to 38,000 square feet.
Some shoppers said they were glad the store owners decided to expand on Sedalia’s east side. Pat and Vernon Barto, of Smithton, checked out the new store Monday morning.
Pat Barto said, “being on this side of town is great.”
Woods Vice President Craig Easter said the availability of the building was among the reasons the store stayed on the east side of town, but store officials were also happy to serve their loyal customers there. The store offers something for everybody, Easter said.
“We’re trying to serve the entire community — north, south east or west. ... It’s got all the amenities you’d want in a one-stop shop,” he said.
Store Manager Bob Preston said Woods has increased the number of employees from 60 to more than 80.
Preston said he thinks the most popular features of the new store will be the coffee shop, sit-down dining area in the deli, full-service meat counter, expanded frozen foods section and pharmacy with drive-up window.
Cleota Perkins, administrator of The Essex, a residential care facility for older adults, shops at Woods frequently because the business has its account there. She took note of the turnips offered in the produce section and the added variety of fish at the meat counter.
“I think it’s beautiful. ... They’ve always been really good to us, but this gives us a lot more choices,” Perkins said.
The ful- service meat counter employees two additional butchers, said Jason McCarthy, meat director of all Woods stores. Customers can select from items including fresh bratwurst, kabobs, steaks, chicken, pork, turkey, bacon-wrapped meats and seafood. They can chose to buy one item or several.
McCarthy said marinated meats are among the specialties in the department. Workers use a vacuum-seal tumbler to marinate the meat.
“At the store, we’re able to marinate the meat in 20 minutes, where it would take two days at home,” he said.
McCarthy said the meat counter is a first for the Woods chain.
“This has a lot more variety,” he said.
At the front of the store, business at the Oaxa Cafe Coffee Co. was “very brisk” Monday morning, Preston said. Workers at the coffee bar serve flavored coffees, lattes and teas, along with pastries.
“Everybody seems to just love it,” he said.
More than 60 new items were added to the produce department, including an expanded organic section.
“This is the showcase of the store,” said Produce Director Tony Gingerich.
Produce is placed in “pods,” Gingerich said.
“To a consumer, it’s very easy shopping, and it has a lot of eye appeal,” he said.
Jack Smith, of Sedalia, perused the produce department Monday morning.
“It’s spread out and everything looks fresh,” Smith said. “That’s the main thing I look for in produce.”
Smith said he noticed a wider variety of vegetables. He also noticed a range of ingredients used in Spanish to Italian cooking.
“There’s a lot of different variety of things for any individual,” he said.
The store also features a larger, sit-down deli for more than 60 people, where free Wi-Fi is available. The meats and cheeses in the deli have expanded by more than 50 percent, said Gingerich, who also oversees the deli and bakery departments. Other new items include salads and rotisserie chicken.
The deli offers daily lunch specials for $4.99, including chicken on Monday, tacos on Tuesday, Asian cuisine on Wednesday, tenderloin sandwich on Thursday and catfish on Friday.
In the bakery, a new line of pies is sold whole or by the slice.
The liquor and beer section of the store has also expanded, including a 50 percent increase in wine selections. Preston said the store has more room to keep beer cold and a walk-in cooler for imported beers.
Other new features include self-check out lanes and a “grab and go” beverage case.
The store is having holding drawings as part of its opening. Shoppers can sign up for a chance to win one of five $1,000 gas cards to Woods Express, the filling station under construction in front of the shopping center. Woods Express is expected to open in August, Preston said.
Also, the store plans to offer special prices as part of its grand opening Wednesday.