Dillons is boosting the profile of cash-related financial services such as check cashing and debit cards by moving such services to its service desk as the Money Shop.
That mirrors many of the financial services offered by rival Wal-Mart and even check-cashing chains such as Speedy Cash.
Dillons' parent Kroger concluded that it was turning away too many potential customers who want to or need to use cash, said Sara Shelton, head of money services for Kroger Personal Finance.
Wichita's 26 stores are a good place to try out the new concept, Shelton said: 36 percent of area households don't use a bank or don't use a bank as their primary place for storing their money.
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"We have a lot of customers who want to use cash for whatever reason and we're sending them somewhere else to get it," she said.
Dillons Money Shop offers:
* Reloadable, pre-paid debit cards, initially up to $500, but on a permanent basis up to $3,000.
* Check cashing, up to $5,000 for a government check and up to $2,000 for payroll check.
* Money orders of up to $1,000.
* Money transfers via Western Union.
* Cell phone handsets, plans and minutes.
More services are coming, Shelton said.
Dillons had been offering most of these services already, but not marketing them in a big way, she said.
The company has invested in new technology to speed up transactions — and eliminate the need for fingerprints when cashing checks — along with new training for store personnel and new signs to alert potential customers.
"It's mostly a refocus on products we've been offering for years," Shelton said.
She said none of the services overlap with the Intrust Bank branches inside the Dillons stores.
Kroger will be monitoring how customers use the services. She said the use of the service is expected to grow with the public's newfound interest in cutting debt.
Shelton said the primary reason was to keep customers in the stores and able to shop.
She wouldn't say whether the company views the fees as a profit center, but did say the fees are there to "offset our costs."
"It's all about growing grocery sales," Shelton said.