"Where is the olive oil?"

"What aisle is the granola in?"

"Where did the wine get moved to?"

Answers to these questions and more can be found in many areas throughout Rockland Hannaford as it continues its renovations that began shortly before Christmas 2012.

Store navigators, wearing yellow shirts, can be seen assisting customers to find their needs during peak hours. There are also endcap signs and item location guides that update aisle features. There is also an online newsletter that is updated frequently to inform customers of what they should expect.

Although Hannaford is not expanding its existing 52,000 square feet of the current store on Maverick Street, it is adding more than 1,400 additional products, one aisle and numerous up-to-date features.

The renovations began Dec. 15 and should be completed mid-June 2013, according to Rockland Store Manager Chris Flynn. Both the Rockland and Camden Hannaford stores are looking forward to holding a grand reopening celebration once all phases are complete.

"The project is about halfway through," said Flynn. A lot behind the scenes has been completed, with new office space and a new compressor room to accommodate the new refrigeration system.

"Once the center-store aisles are complete most of the biggest challenges will be over," said Flynn. Digging in the floor and all the electrical restructuring that is entailed makes for many challenges and inconveniences.

In addition to new aisle signage and departmental improvements, major changes include a more cost-efficient freezer section with special motion sensors, insulated covering for the meat department, and new LED lighting instead of fluorescent.

The renovation process expanded the freezer section and meat department, which in turn has allowed for more selections every day, respectively.

Another major change customers will experience is the "integrated/segregated" philosophy; products from the same category, separated into its own section.

"Organic and natural foods are being integrated into the same aisles as the regular products," said Flynn. "Then they are segregated into sections." Thus, if you are looking for organic pasta, look for the pasta aisle and the organic section of pasta will be there. All the dairy products are arranged in this fashion as well.

"This is done mainly for price comparison," said Flynn. "More people are looking for healthier lifestyles. This allows them to see that eating healthier does not cost much more."

Most of the new items will be organic and natural. "People are trying to eat healthier and exposing their kids to better choices," said Flynn.

Gluten-free products will still have its own section.

Health and beauty care products will be arranged in its own section in front of the yet-to-be-constructed new pharmacy.

"It will have low profile shelving and angled differently for ease of view," said Flynn.

"The existing pharmacy is going to be completely demolished and the new one built within the same confines," said Flynn. "It's almost done. It's going to be quite big plus it will have a separate room for immunizations, counseling, and we're lining up some other programs."

One program will allow customers to bring in their prescriptions so a licensed pharmacist can run through what each one does and how it may interact with current and future prescriptions. Everything will be entered into a database so any future prescriptions needed will be flagged if there is any type of interaction with current medications being taken.

Better workflow is the idea. "We're hoping to cut the wait time in half at least," said Flynn. "Fifteen to 20 minutes max is the goal. We want our customers to get in and out."

Rockland Hannaford has about 200 employees with seven department heads. Departments completed so far are freezer, meat and part of the dairy. Next in line are the produce, floral, bakery and deli departments.

"Wine in Motion" is not just the action of moving their wine section from front end to the bakery.

"There will be a better selection with wines from around the world," said Flynn. The section will highlight an "Island of Limited Reserve" that will feature specialty wines for a period of time. Special shelving and lighting will enhance the section.

With 72-feet of aisle space, the Rockland Hannaford also houses the largest selection of liquor in the company, said Flynn.

Hannaford's strategy of "everyday low price" has worked and that is the philosophy they are keeping. They do not price match and customers do not need a particular card to get the best price.

"All customers get the sale price," said Assistant Store Manager Stefan Wrigley. "Shopping here there should never be surprises."

"Quality and variety is not something we are going to compromise," added Flynn.

The management staff is excited about the renovations. "The new decoration doesn't always add a perceived value for the customer," said Flynn, but it should make it easier to find the products and enabled a better, broader selection.

Some other changes are the new registers and the kiosk center which now facilitates money transfers and lottery ticket sales without time constraints.

Also customers have a new convenient bottle redemption process known as CLYNK. Only two stores in the company have implemented this system, Rockland and Forest Avenue in Portland. The outdoor redemption trailer has been in place since January. Customers sign up for the service, tag their bag, deposit it in the trailer and the refund is automatically deposited in their account.

"This has allowed us to expand inside and no longer an inconvenience to our customers," said Flynn.

"This was an old facility that needed lots of work," said Flynn. "Lots of behind the scenes and older equipment that needed to be upgraded."

The department heads and management team are armed with new, wireless phones for ease of contact and to cut down on the interference of pages over the intercom. "We don't want customers thinking we are catching up with friends," said Flynn, "We're trying to make their shopping experience even better."

"We appreciate everybody being kind and patient," said Flynn. "We know that in the end our customers will have a much more pleasant shopping experience."

The cost of the renovations was not disclosed.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or by email at bbirmingham@courierpublicationsllc.com.