Rincon and Effingham County elected officials say they believe the state’s newest, largest and fanciest Kroger will attract some shoppers from Chatham County, reversing the usual flow of traffic from this bedroom community.
The Kroger Marketplace that opened at 7 a.m. Wednesday on Ga. 21 has 123,000 square feet and soon will offer a service that the Savannah Marketplace store doesn’t have — at least not yet — online grocery ordering.
Shoppers will be able to use their Kroger Plus cards to order groceries online, choosing from 40,000 of the store’s 103,000 items. The next day they can pull into a covered area in front of the Kroger and employees will deliver their orders to their vehicles.
The service called “ClickList” will start in the next week or two in Rincon. It will be free for the first four trips and after that will cost $4.95 a trip, said Glynn Jenkins, public relations director for Kroger’s Atlanta Division.
Jenkins said online ordering also will come to the Savannah Marketplace store, but no date has been set for its rollout.
The new store, a $26 million investment, has 320 associates — 250 in new positions, said Bruce Lucia, president of the grocery store chain’s Atlanta division.
Kroger has been in Rincon for 29 years, growing from 25,000 square feet in what is now Goody’s on Ga. 21 to the 44,000-square-foot building it occupied since August 2000 on Ga. 21.
“The reason we were able to do this is that you folks have supported Kroger,” he said.
Rincon Mayor Ken Lee, who retired in February 2014 as manager of the Rincon Kroger, said the new store opening is exciting, but he’s glad he wasn’t around to oversee the transition.
“I love to go in and go back out quickly,” he said.
The mayor expects the store to draw customers from adjoining counties. “This is something that will bring people from Chatham County to come here and shop,” he said.
Effingham County Commission Chairman Wendall Kessler agreed. “We’ve come a long way,” he said. “We look forward to folks coming this direction to spend their money.”
Lee said he’s frequently asked when Rincon’s going to get a chain, sit-down restaurant. “Let me predict — now!” he said.
That may be the case. Arahn Hawkins, who works in real estate for Kroger in Atlanta, said an outparcel that’s a little larger than one acre was sold recently to a company that is planning a restaurant.
Hawkins said he doesn’t know what type of restaurant it will be or if it will be sit-down, but he said it will meet certain overall parameters that Kroger wanted on the property.
Hawkins also said construction will start within a month on a strip shopping center to the north of the new Kroger building. He said construction should take six to eight months to finish.
Tenants will include a nail salon, hair salon and sandwich shop, he said.
A Chick-fil-A also will be built on a Kroger outparcel. Rincon City Planner LaMeisha Kelly has said work can start on that restaurant now that the Kroger is open and turn lanes and a traffic light have been added to Ga. 21.
The parking lot was packed Wednesday and the aisles were crowded with shoppers, some standing in line for Starbucks coffee.
The store, which will be open from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week, suffered a few minor glitches such as a malfunctioning kiosk where customers are supposed to be able to place deli orders so they don’t have to stand in line.
Shopper Cassandra Tarver of Guyton said she was glad the store was “finally” open. She said she’s impressed by the larger selection.
Tarver said her family went on a fishing trip at spring break to LaGrange, Ga., where they found a particular type of Kroger salad dressing that they couldn’t get at the old Kroger in Rincon.
She found it at the new Kroger — Sriracha flavor.
She also was pleased with the prices. “It’s the only place we go,” she said. “We don’t shop anywhere else.”
As part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Kroger gave $500 checks to each of Effingham’s two high schools, Rincon Elementary School and the food pantry Manna House.