Driving by the new Hannaford supermarket on Route 20 in Duanesburg near the Schoharie County line, you would think that the 35,000-square-foot store is open for business.
The parking lot was nearly full Thursday afternoon, but not with customers enthusiastic about having another option in a traditionally underserved area. Instead, the store was teeming with Hannaford associates, mostly from the company’s headquarters in Scarborough, Maine, making final preparations for the grand opening at 7 a.m. Saturday. Store manager Gene Prout said at this point, they are mostly testing equipment to ensure everything runs smoothly for the event. Prout added that all of the approximately 100 employees who will work at the store have already completed their training.
For Prout, the grand opening will be a homecoming: prior to being named manager of the new store, he had been commuting weekly from his home in Duanesburg to Scarborough for the better part of two years. “As much as I do like to travel, it’ll be nice to be able come to work and get my shopping done 10 minutes from home,” he said.
That kind of convenience has many people in the surrounding communities excited about the new store. As the supermarket has neared completion and ramped up for the grand opening over the last week, Prout said he spoke to about a dozen people a day who drove into the parking lot and walked inside, thinking it was already open.
Sure enough, a few minutes later, Ted and Edith Strobeck of Cobleskill drove up and were about to walk in when they were told by some contractors that the store won’t be open until Saturday. “We were just going to pick up some milk,” Ted Strobeck said. The couple said they shop at Hannaford’s Guilderland location, about 17 miles east on Route 20, when they’re in the area for doctors’ appointments.
“I do like Hannaford,” Edith Strobeck said. She described the supermarket as “a nice, clean place.” The couple said they will check out the new store after it opens Saturday, though they added they normally shop at the Price Chopper in Cobleskill.
Rita Bohringer of Carlisle also drove up to the store and was turned away. Bohringer said she normally shops at the Walmart Supercenter in Cobleskill. “It’s the cheapest place around,” she said, “but the quality of the some of the products aren’t the greatest.” She’s happy that she’ll have an alternative, and added she won’t have to travel any farther to the Hannaford, about 10 minutes away from her home.
Prout says he expects to draw customers from west of Schenectady, the outskirts of Amsterdam, and smaller towns like Sharon Springs, Carlisle and nearby Esperance. He is also touting the store’s drive-through pharmacy, which he said no other retail outlet in the immediate area offers.
Prout said the drive-through option will be especially attractive for non-ambulatory customers and parents with sick children because they won’t have to trudge through the store. And while winter may be the farthest thing from anyone’s mind right now, Prout said that’s when customers will really notice the convenience of the drive-through pharmacy as the area tends to get more snowfall because of its higher elevation.
Dan Anderson will manage the pharmacy, which will include one other full-time pharmacist and three part-time pharmacy technicians. Anderson has been the pharmacy manager at Hannaford’s Gloversville store. Even though it’s a lateral move, Anderson said he jumped at the chance to transfer to the new location when he saw the posting.
“I basically just look at it as I love working for Hannaford, and this is a great opportunity to build a store from the ground up. I get to build customer relationships,” said Anderson, who has worked for the company for eight years.
Anderson said there’s definitely a buzz in the community about the grand opening, and many people have already called the pharmacy, whose phone number is listed on Hannaford’s website. “A lot of people who make the trip from here to the Guilderland location are very enthusiastic,” he said. That Hannaford is a more than 20-minute drive away.
Like many building projects today — including a Colonie supermarket opened last year that rival Price Chopper called its greenest ever — the new Hannaford includes a number of environmentally friendly features, from high-efficiency climate control systems and lighting fixtures to skylights that allow the lights to be turned off. In what could be the start of a trend in the Capital Region, the parking lot features nine spaces, denoted by light-green signs, reserved for “low emission/hybrid vehicles.”