My wife and I went to a spacious new Hy-Vee supermarket in Olathe, Kan., this week. The Hy-Vee that we used to go to — a couple of miles closer than the just unveiled version — shut its doors just before this new model concept opened.
The freshly minted Hy-Vee is beautiful to look at, including a very large produce department with much more fruit and vegetable variety than our old store. One of the first things that caught my eye about the produce department was a striking display of tropical fruit, including miniature pineapples and a massive jackfruit that was priced near $30.
It was nice to see several familiar and friendly faces among the staff transferred from the shuttered store. The spic and span Hy-Vee also features a comfortable sit-down restaurant (Market Grille) and bar attached to the east end of the store, with nearly 15 large flat screen televisions giving all the patrons a view to ESPN, Fox Sports and other assorted sports channels. Yes, the place could be date night and shopping trip rolled into one.
The store was full of people even at 9 p.m. As we were headed out the door, I suddenly thought “Where is the horse?” The token-operated rocking horse was a fixture at the old store. When our kids were young, they each took their turn on the gently rocking kiddie ride. Even though our kids are now in their 20s, we still have a touch of nostalgia for that old pony. Many a time, over the years, we exited the store after a shopping trip to the sight and sound of a contented youngster saddled up on that ride.
So I had to ask about the horse. One blue-shirted manager assured me that a new pony was en route; the one from the closed store was put out to pasture at another location. He and another Hy-Vee employee said that a remarkable number of customers asked about the whereabouts of the horse.
Give us this pristine new concept store. Wow us with the jackfruit, the upscale restaurant, the excellent deli. But, please, don’t forget the pony ride.