WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- Black dirt sold here is one small example of how Hy-Vee has positioned itself as a 21st century retailer in the heart of the Midwest. It may sound ludicrous, yet the statistic is impressive. Last year, Hy-Vee shipped over 1,000 truckloads of two-cubic-foot bags of Iowa soil to some of its 200-plus stores, according Ron Pearson, who is chief executive officer, chairman and president of the privately held chain. Pearson proudly cites the item movement of dirt, in an ...

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