157,000 sq. ft. store may open in March, 2003
Work should begin within the month on a new Wal-Mart Supercenter at the Old Sale Barn site in Storm Lake.
The new store, which will offer a full-service grocery store along with an expanded line of department store merchandise, could be open as early as March of 2003, according to John Bisio, Wal-Mart manager of community affairs.
"Everybody will benefit from the improvements that we plan to make. Not just the aesthetics, but in the function and in the services we provide," he said.
Plans call for the construction of a 157,000 square foot Supercenter at the Business 71 and C-49 intersection, an increase of almost 90,000 square feet over the existing Wal-Mart store on North Lake Avenue.
The store would feature a large grocery, a tire-and-lube express auto shop, probably a vision care office, and several third-party tenants - typically including such things as hair salons, banking, floral shops, one-hour photo developing lab, dry cleaning and package mailing. The store will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Overall the physical make up of the store will be better, Bisio said. "You're better able to handle customer traffic... and it's easier to get up and down the aisles," he said.
With that, there will also be an increase in the number of employees. "It's safe to say we'll be adding around 200 people, on the conservative side," Bisio said.
Actual construction should be completed in February, when an operations team will move in and set up the store for a March opening. Customers at the current store shouldn't notice too much disruption, though.
"We'll keep the doors open at the existing store and try to operate in a fashion that is consistent with the day-to-day operations right up to the moment we close the existing store and open the new one," Bisio said. "It's a virtually seamless transition."
Construction of a Supercenter is customer-driven, Bisio said. The store has a broader assortment of merchandise, which causes many people with a regular Wal-Mart store to still travel to a neighboring community with a Supercenter to shop.
"It's a real demonstration of people making the Supercenter the store of their choice," Bisio said. "When you do that, you find yourselves at other destinations. I think it helps other businesses across the board."
That may cause some Storm Lakers to stay home to shop, and cause more people to travel to Storm Lake, he said.
"I think it could be one more reason for people to come to Storm Lake to do their shopping," Bisio said. "They would be looking at Storm Lake as more of a regional shopping destination than what they used to."
He feels customers will appreciate the new Supercenter.
"I think it's hard to argue you'd rather shop at the old store than your new store. There are improvements all the way around," he said. "Not just in the things you see, but also in the way a store functions and operates."
The new store is also for employees. "It's an exciting thing for our associates and certainly our customers," Bisio said. "We're not only physically growing our store, we're expanding our commitment to the community and our involvement, too."
Just this year alone, Wal-Mart has announced plans to open or update 180 to 185 new Supercenters. Relocations and expansion account for more than half of those new Supercenters.