By John Sharp
The grand opening of the new 50,000 square foot Ball’s Price Chopper at the southwest corner of Bannister and Hillcrest Roads which is replacing the smaller outdated Price Chopper at 9550 Blue Ridge Blvd. will be at 8 a.m. Wednesday, July 28, following a 7:40 ribbon cutting ceremony.
The new store at 5665 E. Bannister Rd. which will normally be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily will feature greatly expanded deli and produce departments, a much larger Harry’s Liquor store and a greater variety of grocery and non-food items such as health and beauty products.
The store was built on the footprint of the demolished eastern portion of the former Kmart store on the site and adjoins Life Storage which provides climate controlled inside storage in the western portion of the former Kmart.
Unlike the old store which will close at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 24, it will contain a large in-house bakery, floral department, a salad bar and indoor seating with Wi-Fi availability for deli customers.
“The deli and bakery will show the biggest improvement,” said Mike Sullivan, vice president of operations for Ball’s Food Stores.
Sullivan said the deli will have a large smoker for smoked meats, a hot soup bar, a wing bar with boneless and bone-in wings, baked and fried chicken cooked in-house and self-service hot foods, as well as sandwiches, premade salads and an expanded variety of cheeses. He said this will be the first Ball’s store to offer fresh pork rinds fried in-house.
He said instead of offering just premade bakery products like at the old store, the in house bakery will offer fresh baked bagels, breads, cakes, cookies. croissants, donuts and pies. Cakes can be decorated in-house for special occasions.
The expanded produce department which is right at the front of the new store will offer many more organic products and more precut fruits and vegetables.
Ball’s buys much of its produce from about 150 local family farmers, said Scott Bayne, vice president of sales and marketing for Ball’s, so it is very fresh.
Bayne noted that unlike the stores of many other grocery chains, the new store has certified butchers on hand who can cut meat to order. He said meat will be cut and ground several times a day in the store, not pre-packaged as it is at some competitors’ stores.
He said the store’s greatly increased variety even extends to pet food, and the store will carry Freshpet refrigerated dog and cat food and treats.
Bayne said the new store is very energy efficient with all LED lighting and enclosed display cases for refrigerated products. “Everything is brand new,” he said.
He explained an entry vestibule will save energy and help maintain a comfortable temperature in the store for shoppers and staff.
Other amenities at the store include four self-checkouts and new large and small plastic grocery carts. The store will also provide Western Union, bill paying, check cashing and money order service and sell lottery tickets. Sullivan said online ordering and curbside pickup should be available at the store in the near future.
In addition to the employees who will be transferring from the Blue Ridge store, Ball’s already has hired about 50 new teammates to staff the larger store, and is still in the process of hiring employees who are 16 and over to work there, Sullivan said.
He pointed out many new employees live in surrounding neighborhoods or are students or recent graduates of the Hickman Mills School District.
Ball’s Food Stores is a local family owned company that will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023. It operates 26 grocery stores in the metropolitan area under the Price Chopper, Hen House Markets, Sunfresh and Payless Discount Foods banners.