Improved customer service and convenience is the key to the massive renovation currently taking place at Baker's IGA in Newcomerstown. The project, which began last week, has been in the planning stages for several months, and a dream for several years, according to company President Gary Baker.

Work on the store will include the addition of a self contained C-Store for fuel customers, a new entrance way and cart storage area, completely new produce and dairy departments, new checkout counters, new self-scanners and new grocery shelving.

By completion the store should have a much more spacious, modern look in the front end, a produce department twice its current size and a new energy efficient dairy operation. Fuel customers will be able to purchase coffee, snacks, and convenience items without entering the main area of the store. Customers who wish will be able to avail themselves of two new self scanners for quick service. New energy efficient lighting will compliment the entire store along with new tile floors and ceiling.

"When we purchased Thompson's in 2004," Baker commented, "we knew we wanted to make several changes over time. In 2004, we started in the meat and deli departments. We added a number of island meat and deli cases and moved the west wall back several feet. In addition, we relocated the beer and wine departments. Because of the increased volume created by the union, we also had quite a bit of renovation in backroom areas, unseen by the customer but including two large new freezers and new grocery storage racking.

"In 2007, we made a substantial investment with the addition of the fuel center and began our IGA Fuel Rewards program shortly thereafter. In 2009, we replaced the entire front end cash register system to a PC based operation."

The current changes are the next logical step in the process.

"We believe in Baker's IGA Newcomerstown, its employees and its customers. We believe our community should have as modern a store as is available in larger communities," Baker said. "We are all excited by the changes and improvements in store and look forward to serving the Newcomerstown area for many years to come!"

General contractor for the renovation is Gemini Construction of Coshocton.

Baker said the cost of the entire project is approximately $500,000.

The project is expected to be completed by February 2011.