Hy-Vee continues to expand in the Twin Cities, even as other chains have stopped adding new stores or downsized the new ones.

Its 12th store in the Twin Cities opens Tuesday in Maple Grove at 18755 70th Way N.

"You look around the country and see retailers a lot larger than us are not opening grocery stores right now," said Hy-Vee's chief executive Randy Edeker in an interview last week in the new store. "To be opening a grocery store is not a common thing in the U.S. these days."

The 92,000-square-feet store was originally projected to open in 2018, but Edeker pumped the brakes on all Twin Cities Hy-Vees not yet under construction, including a second Maple Grove store, and those in Columbia Heights, Chaska, Farmington and West St. Paul. "We're still committed to the Twin Cities, and we're still going to build big stores," Edeker said. "But in some locations you wait until the time is right. We've had some spots for 10 years."

In 2020, Hy-Vee will open another large store in Spring Lake Park and a Wahlburgers restaurant in Maple Grove. Edeker hinted at a third location opening next year in an existing building that would be similar in size to Hy-Vee's 2018 remodeling of a 56,000-square-feet former Cub location in Plymouth.

In 2016, Hy-Vee planned to open four or five locations a year in the Twin Cities. Now it's two or three, but as supermarkets change to meet consumers' needs, new locations can now include smaller convenience stores or other concepts, not just superstores.

Hy-Vee's Maple Grove store includes several expanded features not found elsewhere in the Twin Cities. Home decor, housewares, greeting cards, candy and value sections have all been beefed up.

Why sell more items for the home in a supermarket? Edeker said it's related to the mass of store closures nationwide.

Just as Target and others capitalized on Toys 'R' Us closing by bumping up their toy selection, Hy-Vee is responding to home retailers such as Bed Bath & Beyond that are closing stores.

"We're not going to be the end-all for everybody, but we're trying to have some of those things," he said. "We sell great beef, but sometimes we don't sell anything to cook it with so we added Calphalon [cookware]. The adjacencies make sense."

An expanded candy aisle features both kids' playful confections and serious, gourmet chocolates for adults, a free unicorn ride, and lollipops.

"We're trying to bring some personality to the candy aisle," Edeker said. "Look what's happening with stores Lolli and Pops in malls. Playful candy is cool again."

Adding new features brings in customers, but it's low prices that keep them coming back. Hy-Vee has added guaranteed low prices on about 500 items as well as more weekly and monthly deals. "The most important things on a shopper's list used to be location, quality, produce and service," Edeker said. "Now it's low prices. We're more price sensitive now than we were even a month ago."

The main store will open at 6 a.m. Tuesday and then be open 24 hours daily. A separate Fast & Fresh Express store will be open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. The location also includes a liquor store, a Market Grille Express restaurant, a health clinic, a Basin beauty department, a Starbucks and a post office station.

It will employ nearly 500 workers, including 100 full-time. Managers are still trying to fill about 100 positions.

John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633