Jungle Jim’s International Market is growing yet again. Crews started adding fencing and installed banners outside the Fairfield store Monday, Jan. 13 to tout its front end expansion project, which is slated to add 17,000 square feet and new tenants, according to store officials. One of the new tenants will be Graeter’s Ice Cream, which will have a drive-thru, according to Phill Adams, the store’s director of development. Another new tenant will be named at a later date. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Graeter’s, Fifth Third, more space: What the coming Jungle Jim’s expansion means in Fairfield

The Fairfield store recently launched an expansion project that will add about 17,000 square feet, more shopping options and three tenants. The project includes demolishing a structure just to the southwest of the main facility and building the new addition.

The latest in about a dozen or so expansions in the store’s nearly 50-year history will help the business keep up with its growth, said Phill Adams, the Jungle Jim’s director of development.

“Sales continue to just go against the industry trend and are going strong,” he said. “The store, even though it feels big, is small based on the number of people in the building.

“It was still smaller, for customers, than the Eastgate location, so we weren’t able to put everything on the floor that matched Eastgate’s selection. A lot of the items customers would have to ask for, employees would have to run to the back and pick it out of the inventory in the back.”

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Cincinnati-based Graeter’s Ice Cream will occupy a space with a drive thru.

“They’re a high-quality, Cincinnati company (that’s) well-established,” he said. “We have people from all over the country coming in and it’s a good fit for us.”

The new location will be the third Graeter’s in Butler County, joining locations in Liberty and West Chester townships.

Shifting to a space at the front of the new addition will be Fifth Third Bank, which will offer dedicated entrances from outside the bank or inside the store.

Another new tenant will be decided and named later, Adams said.

The building in front of the store that will be replaced by the addition is connected to the greenhouse but ended up being space that Jungle Jim’s didn’t utilize well, Adams said.

Over the years, Jungle Jim’s has tried to sell several items inside the soon-to-be-removed building, including flowers, clothing, plants and Amish-made furniture, but nothing seemed to click with customers.

“Everyone was focused on coming in the building and seeing Jungle Jim’s,” Adams said. “They didn’t want to hit that little building a few feet away. It was so bizarre.”

By removing that building and constructing space connected to the store, Junge Jim’s gains about 12,000 square feet for itself.

“We actually have some really good, usable square footage and it will give it a nice ‘wow factor’ coming into the building,” he said.

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The main, waterfall-adorned Jungle Jim’s entrance will remain open during the expansion, as will a smaller entrance next to the store’s beer-and-wine entrance. Construction is expected to progress in stages throughout this year, and the space will be “in transition” for years, he said.

“We have to move departments to the front and re-establish what’s going to go in the departments that are being vacated in the back of the store,” Adams said. “There’s going to be a lot of moving parts over the years. We don’t want to do everything at once because that frustrates customers.”

The Jungle Jim’s Sushi Bar will remain in the same location.

Between tenants and the grocery store’s staff, the expansion will create approximately 20 new jobs, Adams said.

With a total of 59 tenants at both Fairfield and Eastgate locations, Jungle Jim’s International Market’s tenant occupancy is at 100 percent, he said.

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