BELDING — Shoppers who haven’t been to the Leppink’s store in a while may not recognize the place on their next visit.
For the past several weeks, the venerable grocery — which recently celebrated its 85th anniversary — has been undergoing a complete makeover.
That makeover is more than cosmetic. The improvements to the market, said owner John Leppink, are so sweeping that the store is handing out maps to customers to help them find their way around while getting used to the new layout.
The items included in the renovation are almost too many to keep track.
“I don’t know where to start,” Leppink said. “We’re refurbishing the whole store to make for a better shopping experience for our customers.”
The restrooms alone were a major project, Leppink added. It was difficult, due to the age of the store, to bring them up to code and make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“That’s something people have been asking for for a long time,” Leppink said. “With an older store, it was a little harder to get to that point, but we have.”
Other improvements include a greatly expanded produce department, which will allow the store to sell and display a greater array of choices in a more attractive manner.
Similar improvements have been made to the meat and deli departments, both of which now feature new cases and display areas.
Another major change is the relocation of the pharmacy, which used to be shoehorned into the store’s entrance. Its new location within the store permits the inclusion of the health and beauty aisles, as well as all over the counter medicines.
“It will allow our pharmacist to help customers with over the counter stuff,” Leppink said. “He’ll be right there to answer any questions anyone may have.”
A new, larger beverage cooler and greatly expanded beer, wine and liquor selection should prove a hit with micro-brew lovers.
Despite adding so many new features, the store’s aisles have been opened up for an easier, more laid-back shopping experience. Though modernization of the store has been the rule throughout the renovation, Leppink made sure the store didn’t lose any of its small town charm.
Plank flooring in the produce department lends the market a cozy, old-time feel while still providing all the amenities shoppers have come to expect from a modern grocery.
Area resident Jan Gooding, who says she shops at Leppink’s regularly, hasn’t been too put off by the work being done there.
“It’s going to be really nice when it’s done,” she said, though she did admit it’s going to take some time to get used to the store’s new layout.
Leppink noted that the “rule of thumb” within the business is to “refresh” a store every 10 years or so; the market’s last refurbishment was nearly 14 years ago, so it was time for a change, he said.
“This has been a major overhaul,” Leppink added.
Leppink’s Food Center is located at 115 S. Pearl St. in Belding.