Big Lots to transform Marietta Food 4 Less building

Photo by Janelle Patterson Food 4 Less is under renovation to become the new Big Lots “store of the future” in Marietta by the holiday season.

MARIETTA — Following a winter flooding scare, a staple box store in Marietta is moving to higher ground.

Big Lots is already full swing into renovations at the former Food 4 Less building at the corner of Greene, Pike and Seventh streets.

“The store is going to be totally different, with the furniture showcase in the center of the store. It will even have different flooring,” said Mike Sprouse, store lead for the Marietta Big Lots. “They call it the store of the future.”

Similar upgrades have appeared in other Big Lots locations across the country, but Sprouse said the nearest would be in Columbus.

“Their target is to be selling in the building for this fall’s sales, the last quarter with the holidays is the goal with the new location,” said Food 4 Less building owner Kin Brewer.

Photo by Janelle Patterson The front entrance of Food 4 Less gets dismantled to make way for a new entrance into the Big Lots going in.

The final day Food 4 Less was open as a discount grocery was June 3, 2017. The building was constructed in 1993 and the grocery store opened in 1994.

“So it’s been a little over a year that it’s been sitting empty in the main building,” said Brewer. “Dr. (Jane) Cases is still there below my office though. I have not heard anything that she’s planning on moving, and I hope she stays.”

The major draw to the new location for Big Lots is being well above potential flood waters.

“We built that building above the 100-year floodplain,” said Brewer. “And Big Lots has a specific interior design for their new stores that will be a major upgrade from what we see now. They’re going to completely renovate the inside of Food 4 Less…it sounds like it will be really nice and have a lot more furniture.”

Site superintendent Dan Venturini, who has worked on renovations for the last three weeks, said the new floor plan of the building opens things up and the community will bid adieu to the yellow walls Food 4 Less was known for.

Photo by Janelle Patterson Dan Venturini oversees work going into renovating the old Food 4 Less building to become a Big Lots Monday.

“We’re shortening the depth of the entryway, and are putting in a new wall for a ton of storage in the back too,” he said as jackhammering began removing the old entranceway on Monday. “Plus there will be carpet in the entry and then hardwood underneath the furniture showroom area. There will be more room to move around in.”

Currently the furniture showroom sits to the righthand side of the Big Lots store at its Acme Street location.

But Sprouse said there’s not nearly as much space to try out the furniture and move around. In the new location they’ll add approximately 20,000 square feet to work with for a more open floor plan.

“So with this you’ll actually get to sit down, and see if that lounge chair really pairs well with this couch,” he added.

In February, the chain moved furniture out of the store’s back warehouse as waters rose following constant rain and high river levels. The parking lot filled with water and threatened the buildings in the northwest corner of the intersection at Acme and Pike streets.

“The only thing we could take out was the back stock, given how much time we had,” explained Sprouse. “Then we tried to raise what was left in the store as best we could. Thankfully the store itself didn’t flood, the water stopped two feet from the curb.”

But, he said, store associates had to park at Applebee’s across Pike Street and walk over to work at the store and get things raised.

Looking forward to a tentative move in October and soft opening the first full week of November, Sprouse said he is excited to bring a few more jobs to the area as well.

“We’re going to need about 30 new associates to put freight out, tear down here at the store and build displays there,” he said, noting the store currently has about 15 employees. “So we’re adding more hands to the team, and it’s a bigger store.”

Bridgeport Equipment, longtime neighbors with the current Big Lots location, is also seeing changes with the move.

“We actually own that building, so it’s just expanding our showroom,” said Alicia Walter, who works in the office of the store.

“It’ll possibly have our boats over there, we’re not sure yet.”