(Jan. 21) BETTENDORF, Iowa — St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets Inc. is getting set to open a store in Bettendorf, its first in Iowa.

The 63,000-square-foot store is scheduled to open early in 2005.

Schnuck, founded in 1939, operates 102 stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Mississippi.

The move will provide fruit and vegetable consumers in the area more than just another place to shop, said Mike O’Brien, the chain’s director of produce.

“We’ve studied the market for a few years, and we thought it would be a good market for us,” O’Brien said.

The store’s produce department — using an open-market format — will offer local consumers everything Schnuck carries, then gradually tailor its offerings to its clientele, O’Brien said.

The chain’s produce departments feature a recent format change in cut-fruit displays that put stringent monitors on temperature control, O’Brien said, adding that the Bettendorf store would feature the same format.

“We changed one of our display cases for our value-added cut fruit section,” he said. “It (is modeled from) a deli case that was used for cheese. We’ve reformulated it a little bit, and it blends into our department. It has three shelves and we stock it full of cut melons, cut fruit, cut pineapples and that type of product, and we’re getting great temperature control on it, and it’s holding up very well.”

The chain also has rearranged its produce departments, adding multidecked cases.

“It helps us present it better and gives us more room for all the varieties that we’re carrying,” O’Brien said.