Revamped City Market worth the wait |

Revamped City Market worth the wait

We are glad to see the renovations at Aspen’s City Market grocery closing toward the finish line.

The store is even more impressive than was initially envisioned. Wider shopping aisles, a full-service bakery/delicatessen, a bigger produce section and an expanded meat and seafood market are just what the doctor ordered for the city, which has always seemed a bit underserved in terms of grocery-shopping options. The interior aesthetic improvements also are considerable; a new façade and a larger entrance area will complete the package.

The project started more than a year ago and it has certainly tested the patience of local customers as well as visitors. They have had to contend with shifting departments, a reduced selection, narrow passageways, loud construction noises and a parking lot that’s busy to navigate during peak shopping hours. The store also had to close twice, for several days each time, further inconveniencing its patrons. There can be little doubt that the work took a toll on City Market’s dedicated staff and management as well.

Put simply, the company has done a good job of tackling the refurbishment while remaining open for most of the life of the project. June 15 is the anticipated completion date for all of the work: A large tarp remains on the roof and part of the parking lot is still a staging ground for building activity – signs of unfinished business. We are hopeful that five weeks from now, with the renovations completed, all of the issues that have rankled shoppers since the project’s start will be a thing of the past.

If there is one criticism of the new set-up, it’s rooted in the checkout area. Unlike most of the grocery chain’s other stores located downvalley and elsewhere, where clearly defined checkout aisles a little wider than a grocery cart are the norm, the Aspen store features a European-style system designed to speed up the lines. The open exit area also saves space in the store, giving the company more room in which to offer a wider selection of goods.

A City Market spokeswoman said the company is aware of complaints about the new system, which some view as less than family friendly. A store in Denver offers the same approach to checking out, and it took time for customers to get used to it. But it has proven to be successful, she said.

Will Aspenites and tourists warm up to what appears to be an experimental checkout system? Could this be another instance of a large corporation based outside of the area making a decision on local operations without properly testing the market or consulting with employees who know what works best?

Time will tell. Right now, we’re just glad the work is nearly finished, and there’s a greater selection of everything a grocery store should offer. Godspeed and good luck on the way to the finish line, City Market.

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