By John Sharp
Construction of the new full service Ball’s Price Chopper at the southwest corner of Bannister & Hillcrest Rds. is ahead of schedule, and the store is now scheduled to open in July if there are no significant weather delays instead of September or October as forecast last fall.
The new approximately 50,000 square foot store will replace the smaller Ball’s Price Chopper at the southwest corner of Bannister Rd. & Blue Ridge Blvd. and provide many more products and services including fresh seafood, an on-site bakery, a greatly expanded deli and home delivery.
“We’ve been working on this project for 10 years plus,” said David Ball, president of Ball’s Food Stores, “and we’re so excited to put a store in this area that will be one of the nicest grocery stores in Kansas City, Missouri.”
Ball said his company is proud to still have meat cutters on-site who cut and grind beef, pork and poultry fresh daily instead of just bringing in pre-packaged meats that have been shipped here from great distances away as some groceries do. He added Ball’s is also proud to purchase as much fresh produce as possible from local family farmers.
Construction of the new store on the site of the demolished eastern portion of the former Kmart store is expected to be completed in June if there are no lengthy weather delays, said Chris Vukas, director of economic development for Sunflower Development Group, the local firm that is helping to oversee construction.
“We are hoping to open by July 4 if everything goes well,” said Scott Bayne, vice president of sales and marketing for Ball’s, who explained it takes a few weeks to stock a grocery store once it is ready for occupancy.
Bayne said the store will have an expanded produce section, with many of the items purchased from over 100 area farms and a wide variety of organic products, and a much larger deli with cheeses, meats, sandwiches and soups and upgraded kitchen. He said the deli also will offer baked, fried and rotisserie chicken, chicken wings and a salad bar. A seating area will be available for customers who want to eat their food there.
He added the store will have a floral section, a Harry’s Liquor section, some self-checkouts and a staging area with freezers and refrigeration to store products ordered online that can quickly be taken to customers’ vehicles in reserved parking spaces if they choose to pick the products up instead of having them delivered.
One of the originally proposed services at the store, an on-site pharmacy, has been dropped from the plans since Ball said the store could make better use of the space since there are two nearby pharmacies at the intersection of Bannister Rd. & Blue Ridge Blvd.
“We only had a certain amount of space,” he said, “and I would rather sell food than pharmaceuticals.”
The new store will be very energy efficient, Bayne said, with all LED lighting and glass doors enclosing its lunch meat and dairy displays to conserve energy.
All the company’s employees at the Bannister & Blue Ridge store will be given the opportunity to work at the new store, Bayne said. He noted Ball’s will probably hire from 50 to 75 additional employees to staff the larger store.
Ball’s operates 26 grocery stores in the metropolitan area. Other groceries in the nearby area operated by Ball’s include the Price Choppers at 8430 Wornall Rd. and in Truman’s Marketplace in Grandview and the Sun Fresh in Red Bridge Shopping Center.