Hy-Vee: Where there’s a helpful smile in every aisle

April 8, 2023

One of America’s top three grocery stores.

Hy-Vee has 317 store locations in the United States.

Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned chain of 317 supermarkets with locations in Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Tennessee.

In 1930, Charles Hyde and David Vredenburg founded Hy-Vee grocery store in Beaconsfield, Iowa. This first store was located in a small brick building known as the Beaconsfield Supply Store. Today that building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The first Beaconsfield Supply Store Beaconsfield, Iowa NRPH 07000451

Where there’s a helpful smile in every aisle
Hy-Vee’sadvertising slogan, Where there’s a helpful smile in every aisle, was adopted in 1963 for the chain’s first television commercial. In the 1990s, Annie Meacan and James Paulsen set the slogan to music and it became the company’s jingle.

The Beaconsfield Supply Store

In 1921, Charles Hyde began working for the General Supply Company’s store in Woodbine, Iowa, which was operated by Vredenburg & Lewis. In 1922, the company was formally incorporated, with Vredenburg as president and Hyde as a member of the board of directors. In 1924, Hyde left the General Supply Company and started his store in Cameron, Missouri.

In 1927, Hyde purchased a half stake of a store in Kellerton, Iowa, the other half being owned by the General Supply Company. In 1930, Vredenburg and Hyde started a new business in Beaconsfield, Iowa, called Supply Stores which was a separate partnership from the General Supply Company.

In 1932, the Great Depression laid a heavy hand on the General Supply Company, resulting in its dissolution of the company.

For about six months in 1935, Hyde and Vredenburg’s partnership was dissolved after Iowa enacted the Chain Tax Act of 1935. The Act imposed a heavy tax on chain stores that was later declared unconstitutional.

In 1938, Hyde & Vredenburg, Inc. was officially incorporated, bringing together all of their independently owned stores with those that they owned as partners. The new company’s management plan involved autonomy for store managers, which would ultimately lead to employee ownership.

In 1945, Hyde & Vredenburg acquired the Chariton Wholesale company and moved its corporate headquarters from Lamoni to Chariton, Iowa.

In 1952, Hyde and Vredenburg held an employee contest to come up with a new name for the stores. The winning name, Hy-Vee, a contraction of Hyde and Vredenburg, was adopted in 1952.

In 1960, the company became employee-owned by the Employees’ Trust Fund. 

Expansion of the Hy-Vee stores continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s, with stores opening in South Dakota, Nebraska, Illinois, and Kansas.

In 1975, Hy-Vee’s 100th store, which was also its first to use electronic cash registers, opened in Keokuk, Iowa.

Hy-Vee in Cottage Grove, Oregon

At the turn of the millennium, HealthMarket private-label products were introduced. At the same time, corporate and in-store dieticians were made available to the public.

Drug Town stores were renamed Hy-Vee Drugstores in 2005. In the fiscal year 2009, as the second-largest employee-owned company in the United States, Hy-Vee had sales exceeding $6.3 billion and more than 55,000 employees.

In 2015, Hy-Vee brought online shopping to all stores with the introduction of its new website, Hy-Vee Aisles Online. The company’s loyalty program adopted Hy-Vee Fuel Saver + Perks branding.

The largest Hy-Vee stores include bakeries, delicatessens, floral departments, dine-in and carryout food service, wine and spirits, pharmacies, salad bars, health clinics, HealthMarkets (natural and organic products) as well as Caribou Coffee and Starbucks coffee kiosks. The company maintains fuel stations with convenience stores, fitness centers, and full-service restaurants at some of its properties.

Hy-Vee store in Des Moines, Iowa

In 2016, Hy-Vee began opening clothing boutiques featuring Tesco’s F&F brand in select larger locations.

In 2017, Hy-Vee became the exclusive retailer in its service area for sports nutrition products marketed by American actor, Mark Wahlberg.

In 2019, Hy-Vee announced it would start opening Joe Fresh clothing sections in stores and replace its previous F&F clothing departments.

In September 2021, Hy-Vee opened a 92,989-square-foot “smart store” in Grimes, Iowa which contains new technology, including scan-and-go shopping, salad-making robot vending machines, digital shelf labels, and self-serve kiosks which allow customers to order bakery items, hot food, or fitness equipment.

In November 2021, Hy-Vee won the Technology Association of Iowa awards for CEO of the Year, Creative Technology Solution of the Year, and Software Development Technology Company of the Year.

As of 2021, Hy-Vee Inc. had more than 91,000 employees and annual sales of more than $12 billion. The company currently has 317 store locations in the United States.

On July 27, 2022, it was announced that Randy Edeker would be stepping down as CEO and Aaron Wiese would be assuming the role of CEO. Randy Edeker would remain chairman of the board.

Gloria Sauvé