Employees excited to relocate
By Ashley Dunn
LUTZ — Gloria Serrano double checked prices on Christmas labels. Cathy Nichols stocked shelves in the pet department. Pat Miro iced a cake in the bakery.
Around the new Wal-Mart last week, employees were getting ready for the store’s grand opening on Nov. 4. It will open at 8 a.m. after a ribbon cutting ceremony at 7:30 a.m. It’s located at 1575 Land O’ Lakes Blvd. in Pasco Lutz and is replacing the store at the Village Lakes Shopping Center on SR 54 in Land O’ Lakes, which closes at 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.
“We can’t wait,” said Store Manager Brandie Guderjahn on Oct. 28 about the move.
In recent months, Wal-Mart has taken steps to refresh its stores, merchandising and customer experience, Guderjahn explained. The new 210,966-square-foot store features wide aisles, enhanced service and a layout designed to make the shopping experience more convenient for customers. Wal-Mart aligned the departments that customers shop most frequently.
The pharmacy, for example, is adjacent to the grocery section so that it’s easier for customers to pick up their prescriptions while shopping for their groceries.
The site-to-store pick-up counter and the photo lab are located at the entrance so customers spend less time weaving through the store to get to them.
“You want to print some pictures, you just run in, print them, and run back out,” Guderjahn said.
Lower shelving creates an improved sightline, she said, and directional signage on every aisle helps customers find what they are looking for quickly.
The new store will also have a Subway, an optical center, a hair salon and a Redbox, a DVD vending machine.
“I think the sustainability piece of the building is the best,” Guderjahn said.
The new Lutz Wal-Mart includes features to reduce energy and water consumption and minimize waste. Skylights let in sunlight and reduce the amount of energy required to light the store by up to 75 percent daily. After the sun goes down, LED lighting in the store operates 70 percent more efficiently than traditional fluorescent lighting. Lights in freezers are on motion sensors and only come on if a customer walks by.
The cement used in the concrete flooring is made with recycled materials, and the floor’s finish reduces the need for chemical cleaners. Baseboards are made from recycled plastics.
Low-flow toilets and faucets reduce the water used in the bathrooms. The extra heating from refrigerators and freezers heats the water in the bathrooms.
The new store is tailored to the needs of the community based on sales at the other store, Guderjahn said. The garden center features a drive through so that customers can bring their vehicles right up to the stone that they are buying, for example, and have an associate load the items.
“It’s kind of unique to our community,” Guderjahn said.
The firearm section of the store has a new automated system so that customers no longer have to fill out forms by hand — it’s all done on the computer.
“It takes, like, half the time,” Guderjahn said.
Guderjahn has been with the Land O’ Lakes Wal-Mart for five years, but this isn’t the first time she’s opened a new store. She helped relocate the Zephyrhills store about six years ago. Lately, she said she has been traveling between the Land O’ Lakes and Lutz stores four to five times a day to make sure there aren’t any snags at either location.
“Everything’s going really smooth as expected,” she said.
The new store has about 380 associates, including 240 new positions that were created as a result of the relocation. More than 60 of the store’s associates have worked for Wal-Mart for more than 10 years, including five associates who have worked at the store since its original opening in 1987. Some of the employees at the new store have come from other nearby locations. Gloria Serrano, for example, came from the store on Little Road in New Port Richey.
“I love it here,” Serrano said of the new Lutz location. “This is gorgeous.”
If you go
What: Wal-Mart ribbon cutting ceremony
When: Nov. 4 at 7:30 a.m.
Where: 1575 Land O’ Lakes Blvd., Lutz
Notes: Pastor Mark Quattrochi of Grace Family Church will begin the ceremony with an invocation. The Sunlake High School Band will perform the national anthem with local veterans presenting the colors. Members of the Central Pasco Chamber of Commerce will cut the ribbon to officially open the new store. The Lutz Wal-Mart will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
More information: (813) 949-4238
Grants will be presented
As part of Wal-Mart’s commitment to the communities in which it operates, $33,000 in grants from the Wal-Mart Foundation will be presented during the grand-opening celebration. The following organizations will each receive grants to support programs that serve the community:
— Pasco County Fire Department
— Habitat For Humanity
— All Children’s Hospital
— Suncoast Harvest Food Bank
— Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
— American Cancer Society
— Hospice Foundation
— Pasco Education Foundation
— Sunlake High School
— Rushe Middle School
— Sanders Memorial Elementary
— Denham Oaks Elementary
— Quail Hollow Elementary
— Lake Myrtle Elementary