Walmart in Eaton Township held a grand re-opening on Friday, announcing the completion of a $5 million renovation project at the store aimed at making shopping more convenient for its customers.
Local dignitaries joined Walmart managers and associates during a ribbon cutting at the store, announcing the conclusion of the 12-week project which began back in February.
According to Walmart Store Manager Matt Toolan, among the renovations include new lighting; new display cases in the produce and bakery departments; new ‘Electronics of the Future’ displays which feature lighted low-profile tables holding such items as iPads and iWatches; and new signs making it much easier for customers to locate merchandise.
“We moved every counter to make wider space,” Toolan explained. “We gave space back to our customers. So our aisles are wider.”
“One great thing is we employed local carpenters, local masons, plumbers and other trades people to do the work,” he said.
The featured speaker at the grand re-opening was Walmart Market Manager Bill Riiff.
“In my 18 years, I’ve seen four store openings and 17 remodels. Never have I ever seen a remodel go as well as the store in Tunkhannock,” Riiff explaining, saying that all who worked on the project gave 101 percent effort to make certain everything went smoothly.
Riiff also thanked the people who shop at Walmart, saying their patience is appreciated during the renovations.
The store also took the opportunity to announce the grants it had awarded to various organizations over the past year, as part of its efforts to support the community. Among the organizations which benefited from the grants included Tunkhannock Borough Police ($1,500), Tunkhannock Public Library ($650), Overfield Township Police ($1,500), Tunkhannock Tiger Football Club ($1,500), Lake Winola Fire Company ($1,000), Triton Hose Company ($1,000), as well as the Tunkhannock Area Middle School Marching Band, Tunkhannock Ambulance Association, and Seven Loaves Soup Kitchen.
Toolan explained that 55 new store employees were hired to help with the renovations, 35 of which will remain on permanently, while 20 are expected to move on to other projects.
Part of the celebration included the unveiling of a Wall of Honor at the store, which displayed photographs of veterans both living and deceased. Part of the ceremony included an honor guard provided by the Dennis Strong Chapter of the American Legion.
“We support the Dennis Strong American Legion as well as other veterans,” Toolan explained.
He said that other Walmarts have Walls of Honor, and he pushed to have one established at the local store. Any veteran or relative of a veteran who served honorably may submit a picture for display on the Wall of Honor.
Another highlight of the day was a cookout at the front of the store run by Walmart associates, in which hot dogs and hamburgers were served.
Other improvements made by the renovations include a hardware tool relay, which includes chop saws and radial arm saws, Toolan explained.
“We’ve streamlined our apparel pads and lowered profile shelves for shopping convenience,” he said.
There’s also a new Mother Support Center, located adjacent to the ladies rest room, in which a nursing mother can sit and breast feed her baby in private.
Customers ordering items online will discover the process has been streamlined, the manager said. A person orders an item at the store’s kiosk, which will send a message to a cell phone or tablet when it arrives. The customer checks in at the kiosk, which in turn sends a signal to a palm pilot carried by an associate, who brings out the merchandise.
“It’s pretty cool,’ Toolan explained.
The elements for online pick up for groceries have also been incorporated at the store, Toolan said, but the service will not be launched until Aug. 2. People will be able to order groceries at home from their computers, or a work with via their iPhones or iPads, and pick them up at the store without having to shop for them.
“Walmart is a big part of the community,” Toolan explained. “It’s not just a big grocery store, or a big merchandise store. The check presentations show that this is truly a hometown store.”