Wal-Mart opening on tap

Posted: Thursday, January 14, 2010

The word is out: the new Wal-Mart store in Kenai is set to open at 7:30 a.m. on March 31.

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Photos By M. Scott Moon
Photos By M. Scott Moon
Taylor Tanner touches up the paint Wednesday afternoon inside the Wal-Mart building under construction in Kenai. The building will also host a credit union, a sandwich shop and a hair salon.

Ferdinand Dominic, the Kenai store manager, visited with chambers of commerce in Kenai and Soldotna this week to share some of Wal-Mart's plans as it prepares for the grand opening.

Dominic said he's overseen remodels of Wal-Mart stores in Wasilla and the Dimond store in Anchorage, but this is the first experience with a supercenter from the ground up.

"It's a learning experience every day," Dominic said.

Some of the numbers Dominic shared with the Kenai chamber on Wednesday:

* The store will be open 24 hours a day, except for Christmas. Dominic said the store will close around 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and reopen at 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 26.

* The store will bring 370 jobs to the central Kenai Peninsula.

* Of the 370 jobs, about 80 percent will be full-time, and 20 percent will be part-time.

* Wal-Mart currently has a pool of about 700 applicants for positions at the Kenai store, and more than 100 people already hired.

* The 236,161-square foot store is about the same size as the Wasilla store, and little smaller than the Fairbanks location.

* Just under 20 percent of the square footage is stock room.

* The store will include a Subway sandwich shop, a hair salon and a Denali Alaska Federal Credit Union branch.

* Five of the 10 members of the management team are from the Kenai-Soldotna area; just one is from out of state (though Dominic said he had been trying to get himself to Alaska for a year and a half).

* A small contingent of employees -- just seven -- will come from other states. The rest are coming from the central peninsula.

* Between 130 and 140 employees will begin work in the store on Feb. 8, when Wal-Mart takes possession of the building. The rest of the store's employees will get two work about two weeks ahead of the grand opening.

* The Wal-Mart store will stock about 142,000 items.

* Of those 142,000 items, about 30,000 are Alaska items. Because the store is in Kenai, it will be a little different than other Wal-Marts, Dominic said. "We want to carry what the community wants, not what a Wal-Mart, say in Arkansas, needs. We don't need bass lures or snake-bite kits."

Dominic said some store emloyees will go to other Wal-Mart locations around the state for training. For example, those working in the bakery will go to another location to learn how to use the ovens and other equipment. Prior to the Kenai store opening, they'll be using the equipment in the store -- and providing some meals for other store employees in the process.

Dominic emphasized Wal-Mart is a big box retailer, not a specialty store. For example, shoppers will be able to find a some basic faucets at Wal-Mart, but not the selection of high-end plumbing fixtures available at other local retailers.

Dominic said he couldn't thank the community enough for the welcome the store has received.

"It's a wonderful time," Dominic said. "I really want to thank the city of Kenai, which has come to us with open arms."

For people looking to apply for a job at the new store, Dominic said there are three options:

* Go online to walmart.com, and look for the careers link;

* Visit the Peninsula Job Center in the Kenai Mall;

* Stop by the new Wal-Mart hiring center, also in the Kenai Mall.

Will Morrow can be reached at will.morrow@peninsulaclarion.com.

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