Kroger testing Turkey Hill Market convenience store-small grocery store concept with three locations in Columbus, Ohio; 7,500-sq.-ft. store sells fresh produce, meats, dairy along with c-store fare, gasoline

COLUMBUS , December 2, 2013 () – The recently opened Turkey Hill Market has hit the convenience-and-value sweet spot for at least one of its customers.

Yvonne Corfios of Columbus visited the store at 950 Georgesville Rd. every day last week.

"It's a one-stop-for-all store, for me," said Corfios, who lives nearby. "It's so convenient. And it has some good deals."

Cincinnati grocery-store chain Kroger is trying out three of the markets exclusively in the Columbus market. They include many things found more typically in full-size grocery stores, such as fresh produce, meats, dairy and eggs, as well as prepared, packaged and frozen foods.

But at 7,500 square feet, the recently opened Turkey Hill Market is smaller than the average Kroger store (67,000 square feet), while still about 70 percent bigger than the chain's convenience-store-sized Turkey Hill Minit Markets (4,000 square feet).

A key for shoppers like Corfios: paying grocery-store prices at a smaller store.

"Shoppers want speed, they want fresh, they want convenience, and they want value," said Craig Rosenblum, a partner at Willard Bishop, a consumer-packaged-goods and retailer consultant in Barrington, Ill.

Shoppers' needs are driving retailers to open several store formats, such as Kroger's grocery and convenience stores, and its in-between markets, Rosenblum said.

Wal-Mart calls this the "ecosystem approach." While supercenters dominate the Arkansas company's 4,000-plus stores nationwide, it is building more small grocery stores, called Neighborhood Markets, and Walmart Express convenience stores because they are growing faster than its supercenters.

Shoppers' needs also are driving many different retailers, from dollar stores to home-improvement warehouses, to begin stocking food.

"Competition is heating up as convenience stores are pitted against other channels, particularly dollar and drug channels, for share of spending," according to a June report by Information Resources, the Chicago-based consumer-packaged-goods and retailer consultant.

If hybrid stores such as Walmart Express or Turkey Hill Markets succeed, "they will be strong competitors to formats like dollar stores," said Andrew Wolf, a research analyst at BB&T Capital Markets in Boston, who covers Kroger.

At Turkey Hill Market, shoppers also can find typical convenience-store foods such as slushies, grilled hot dogs, pizza by the slice, bottles of soda and candy bars.

"I love the prices, and it's very convenient," said Jennifer Halliday, a Georgian Heights Elementary School teacher who filled a large plastic cup with soda during a recent lunch break.

The market also sells gas and has a car wash, and Kroger shoppers can redeem their fuel points at the store.

"This store crosses several segments," said Brad Chivington, marketing vice president at Turkey Hill Minit Markets. "We try to send the message that we can take care of many customers' needs at this location. And we work in partnership with Kroger."

The store houses a large gift-card and cellphone kiosk, shelves of groceries and household products, and freezer cases filled with pizzas, bags of vegetables and, of course, full-sized containers of Turkey Hill ice cream.

Shoppers can order fried chicken and biscuit meals at the food counter or pick up a pork loin ($3.19 a pound), tomatoes-on-the-vine ($1 a pound, on sale) and Betty Crocker fudge brownie mix ($2.51) for dinner.

Forgot your child's morning cereal? No problem. This market is open 24 hours a day. Meanwhile, a walk-in beer cooler and wine rack offer adult beverages.

The market even has some items for shoppers with special diets. For instance, Simple Truth (Kroger's in-house organic brand) vanilla soy milk goes for $2.79 a half-gallon.

The Georgesville Road market is slightly larger than the original in Marysville, opened about a year ago. Turkey Hill converted its Minit Market at 1880 E. Broad St. to the larger market concept in April, said Kim Hertzog, advertising and public-relations manager, in an email.

Darel Pfeiff, president of Turkey Hill Minit Markets, said in a written statement: "It's the best of both worlds when it comes to a retail model for gasoline and carwash service, fresh groceries, quality meats and produce, and hot meals, along with the snacks, beverages, and the everyday necessities people count on at traditional convenience stores."

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