When shoppers get their first peek inside the new Kroger Marketplace on Thursday morning, the store manager wants to be at the entrance to see the looks on their faces.

The new Kroger Marketplace at U.S. 31 and Mallory Parkway is more than twice the size of its predecessor.

The $19.1 million, 124,000-square-foot building — next to Canary Creek Cinemas and across the street from Kohl’s — will replace a smaller Kroger store just down on the road on U.S. 31.

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“We outgrew it,” store manager T.J. Arnold said.

He described the previous store, at only 54,000 square feet, as a bottleneck with not enough space for shoppers and not enough room for all the items Kroger wanted to offer.

The Franklin Community High School graduate got his start working for Kroger nearly two decades ago as a bagger at that Franklin Kroger.

“I can’t wait to show the customers,” Arnold said.

The Kroger store off of U.S. 31 at {span}{span class=”section-info-text”}{span}{span}1700 Northwood Plaza, which first opened in 1993, will close for good at 10 p.m. Wednesday. The fuel center will remain open, since one isn’t planned for the Kroger Marketplace, Kroger spokesman Eric Halvorson said.{/span}{/span}{/span}{/span}

When customers enter the store after the 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning ribbon cutting, they will see a shopping section — Live Naturally — that will be the first of its kind in a Kroger Marketplace, he said.

Interest in natural and organic products has increased across the nation, and Kroger wants to match that demand, Halvorson said.

By starting a natural foods and products section, Kroger will be able to get an idea of how well the concept works, Arnold said. The section includes local honey and coffee, as well as natural foods and health products.

At the Bistro on the northeast end of the store, shoppers will have a chance to take a break from perusing the thousands of goods in the store to get a bite to eat.

Options include Pan-Asian dishes, gourmet pizza, chicken, sandwiches, barbecue and a sushi bar. A Starbucks will provide customers with their caffeine fix. Halvorson described it as a “groc-aurant” — a dining area set inside a grocery store.

The store will feature an expanded selection of wine, beer and liquor. Local offerings include items from Taxman Brewing Co., Sun King Brewing, Huber’s and Mallow Run Winery.

The difference between a Kroger and a Kroger Marketplace is that the marketplace can be a one-stop shop for customers, Arnold said.

Besides groceries, customers will be able to get household goods, national brand clothing, toys and more. A pharmacy is available, and the store will have a Little Clinic staffed by a nurse practitioner or nurse’s assistant.

The current Kroger is open from 6 a.m. to midnight, but the new Kroger Marketplace will be open around the clock. In order to manage the increased hours and space, the store will be tripling its staff from about 120 employees to more than 350, Arnold said.

Some employees have spent time training at other Kroger Marketplaces in the region in order to be ready for Thursday morning, he said.

Customers will also be able to shop without setting foot in the store. The Kroger Marketplace will be one of several stores using ClickList, which allows customers to order online and come pick up the order at the store at a later date. Walmart in Franklin recently began offering a similar service.

Parking will be set aside for ClickList shoppers, and store employees will bring the purchases out to them, Halvorson said. Customers will be able to place orders starting Sept. 29th with pickup dates beginning Oct. 3, he said.

One goal is to give the new store a local touch.

“One thing we are trying to do with each of the new sites is to provide something that might make them distinctive from other,” Halvorson said.

For some recently-opened stores, that meant a mural on a wall. For the Kroger Marketplace in Franklin, a sculpture symbolizing birds in flight will be in front of the building.

{span}{span class=”section-info-text”}{span}{span}A preview ceremony is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday where Kroger will announce donations to three local charities, Halvorson said. Big Brother Big Sisters will also host a fashion show at 5:30 p.m.{/span}{/span}{/span}{/span}

At a glance

Here is a look at some of the new features of the Kroger Marketplace set to open Thursday:

Live Naturally, a natural foods and products section

Bistro, which will offer Pan-Asian dishes, gourmet pizza, chicken, sandwiches, barbecue and a sushi bar


Little Clinic staffed by a nurse practitioner or nurse’s assistant

Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.