OAKLEY – Duke and North Carolina. Xavier and the University of Cincinnati. Oakley versus Hyde Park Kroger?
Some of biggest rivalries have been born out of sheer proximity – and in the case of the Krogers, it is measured in a mere mile and a half. The largest Marketplace in the Tri-State region is set to open Thursday in Oakley Station and is poised to rival its Hyde Park Plaza counterpart in nearly every way – it's larger with more selection, including organic, comes complete with a wine and beer bar, and will even offer online shopping.
Is bigger really better? Sure, Oakley is all bright and shiny. But Hyde Park has quite the loyal contingent. It's an establishment in this part of town. And the Oakley store is the new kid on the block. They're comparisons that Kroger officials "absolutely" embrace, said spokeswoman Patty Leesemann. After all, there's enough to go around.
"The Oakley Marketplace and Hyde Park stores are unique in their own ways," she told WCPO.com. "Oakley provides another shopping option, and we really feel like this area can sustain two different stores."
OK, we're convinced. But, really, which is better? Here's how they stack up in a head-to-head comparison:
Best (or better) parking
Winner: Oakley (clearly)
Why: There's not much debate here, really. The new Oakley Kroger will have 580 available parking spots, Leesemann said, and its adjacent retail strip boasts another 150. How many spots does Hyde Park have? It doesn't matter, because it's a hard road finding one. And when you do, you'll be so boiled over with road rage you probably won't even remember how you got there.
Size and scope
Why: It's hard to compete with the LARGEST Kroger in the nation (it actually edges out its nearest competitor, Centerville, Ohio, in terms of sales floor space). To put its size into perspective, 145,000 square feet equates to roughly three football fields.
Winner: Hyde Park
Why: The Kroger in Hyde Park Plaza is one of the most notorious singles spots in the city, if by legend only. Want to "check out" a potential mate? While unconfirmed, try adding a cantaloupe to your cart on a Thursday night. Whether true or not, it's surely an atmosphere that will be hard to duplicate in Oakley, what with its massive aisles and assured to be abundance of produce space.
But the Oakley store will have one leg (or keg) up – its own wine and growler bar for tastings and 12 beer taps and 16 wine taps total. That could give Hyde Park some sizable competition for best social scene. Leesemann said there will also be a steady stream of events and activities planned, including appearances by Reds baseball players and Cincinnati Zoo animals, balloon artists, face painters, jugglers and more on grand opening weekend.
Why: Both locales have self-serve gas stations, so that's a wash. But the new Oakley Kroger will have a laundry list of amenities that Hyde Park does not. Besides the wine and growler bar (see above), there's a grab-and-go deli; bulk natural foods center; apparel shop; sushi bar; expanded area with prepared Asian meals, and pizzas with a separate entrance for easier access; indoor and outdoor seating; a Fifth Third Bank and a Fred Meyer Jewelers. Phew. The pharmacy and Little Clinic are also adjacent. Definitely more convenient for patients and nurse practitioners alike.
The biggest boon for Oakley, however, will be online shopping. The store will be one of the chosen few in the area for the offering that allows you to grocery shop from the comfort of your own home. Just order your needed items online, pull up curbside (the designated area at Oakley Station, for reference sake, is just beyond the gas pumps), and, boom, you're done. No screaming babies. No red-light errors at the self-checkout. No temptation to swipe that last-minute carton of chocolate chip cookie dough.
Of note: Leesemann said online shopping won't be immediately available in Oakley, but it will be offered in a couple weeks. Other stores, like Harper's Point on Montgomery Road, are poised to get it, too. But, sorry, Hyde Park. The list of other likely stores won't include you.
"Not every store is going to have online shopping," Leesemann said. "It's likely (Hyde Park won't) because Oakley will have it, and it's a tougher layout being in a strip mall."
Winner: Hyde Park
Why: Need a haircut? Bagels at Bruegger's? A little froyo? Really, you had us at Mellow Mushroom. If you need to one-stop your grocery shop, Hyde Park Plaza's got Oakley Station trumped (for now). There are dozens of stores within walking distance; just keep close to the sidewalks. So far, the retail strip fronting Oakley Kroger only houses Ambiance Nail Salon 4.0 and Bar Louie, now open.
Greatest nod to the arts
Why: Now, this is just cool. The Oakley store will be the first in Cincinnati adorned with a mural – two in fact. The pieces were created by Cincinnati-based lead artists and commissioned through a partnership with ArtWorks. The one located inside the entrance spans more than 1,000 square feet, is visible from even the back of the store and, Leesemann said, reflects the history, culture and tradition of Oakley, including its familiar landmarks. It took more than 600 manhours and is the largest of any ArtWorks mural to date (there are nearly 100).
The other, in the bistro area, is more abstract but bright and inspiring. It's 180 square feet in size and took 160 hours to complete.
Winner: There's no winners here. If you're shopping at Oakley Station, just avoid the area during Crossroads' mass exodus on Sunday mornings.