New Wal-Mart will be big
Ron Gower/TIMES NEWS Workers have been busy connecting sewer lines and making other adjustments to Route 443 in the vicinity of the new Wal-Mart store in Mahoning Township. The new Wal-Mart has a tentative opening date of Oct. 13. There will be 110 new employees hired, about half of them full-time.
The new Wal-Mart Supercenter being constructed in Mahoning Township is one of the largest in the corporation's formats.
It will have 204,000 square feet. The current Mahoning Wal-Mart has 98,000 square feet and the Hometown Schuylkill County store has 155,000 square feet.
Details about the new Wal-Mart, tentatively scheduled to open Oct. 13, were presented to the Lehighton Council of the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce by store manager Girvin Janicki.
The meeting was held at the Beacon Drive-In, Lehighton, with more than 30 members attending.
In charge of the meeting was council President William Billowitch.
Janicki said the store, located along Route 443, about a half-mile west of the current Wal-Mart, won't be visible from the highway. It sits atop a large, man-made hill, with the driving distance from Route 443 to the parking lot being "almost a half mile."
There will be two "pad stores" along the driveway to the parking lot, but Janicki doesn't know who will occupy them. A Subway store will be located inside Wal-Mart.
Some of the interesting notes Janicki gave on the new Wal-Mart are:
• The existing store will have a 90-day merchandise "sell-down period." The current Wal-Mart likely will close at 6 p.m. on the evening that the new store opens.
• Contrary to rumors, there will be no gas station.
• There will be 110 more people hired for the new store, with about half being full-time employees. Some of the key personnel such as a bakery manager will be hired during the summer so there will be time for training in another store. All of the more than 210 employess at the current store will be retained
• The store will have 110 sky lights. The illumination means there will be many days when ceiling lights in the store won't have to be turned on.
• Most Wal-Marts, including Hometown, have 29 foot ceilings. In the new Mahoning store, the ceiling will be 19 feet high to save on heating costs.
• There will be a "full-fledged grocery department," said Janicki.
• The infants department will be expanded. The current Lehighton Wal-Mart doesn't carry baby food. The new store will. In addition, the inventory of baby strollers and cribs will probably triple from what's in the current store.
• The lawn and garden area will be five times the size of the existing unit. The section also will have a drive-through.
• The photo department will be located in the front of the store.
• Cyber store pick-up will be in the front of the new store.
• The phone area or connection area will be separate from the electronics department.
• The pharmacy will have a drive-through, with the setup very similar to bank chutes. The pharmacy department inside the store will be in the middle of the building and have three zones which will be separate from the other; the drop-off zone, the consultation zone, and the pick-up zone.
• The pet department will be nearly triple in size.
• There will be a crafts section, but the fabric section "is not scheduled to go into the new store."
• There will be 24 cash registers at the store.
When one member of the chamber asked why the store was constructed so high on a hill. Janicki said he didn't know.
The store manager said the Mahoning Wal-Mart was located at its current site in the township for more than 15 years. He said, "The store has always been passed over for remodeling because we knew we were going to relocate."
After the current Wal-Mart is vacated, plans call for it to be demolished. A new Lowe's Home Improvement Center is scheduled to be constructed on the site.