Thursday, April 21, 2011


‘Grand Reopening’ Due May 20

Jim Kevlin/
Walmart Store Manager Paul Wasko, left, discusses the expanded TV section, featuring HD and Internet-connected models, with Alex Ewaniszwk, with R.L. Spencer, the Syracuse contractor.


When Paul Wasko arrived as Walmart store manager here six years ago, a “fixup-cleanup” was underway, but nothing like this.
All 188,000-square-feet are getting a redo.
The back wall where the TVs are displayed has been lengthened, to make way for HD and Internet-connected models.  Walmart’s new Vizio brand is “a big seller,” he said.
The book and stationery section has been moved to the back, to make way for a “Celebration Center” – everything from balloons to pinatas – next to greeting cards in the front.  
Women’s and men’s clothing used to run vertically back from the front, side by side.  When the renovations are done, women’s clothing will stretch along the front, parallel to the cash registers, with men’s clothing behind.
cash-register islands are a light-wood tone.
The renovation, the most extensive since this store opened in 1995 on Southside, began March 27, and is expected to be complete by May 20, when a Grand Reopening is planned.
“It’s more state of the art, more shopper friendly,” said Wasko, a Johnson City native who after decades in Florida moved back Upstate to take this job.  He lives in New Berlin.
During a tour of the store, he bumped into Zimmerman and Jennifer Walston of Norfolk, Va., who are part of a corps that oversees Walmart redos nationwide.  Each do 5-6 a year.  In a 10-year career, Walston estimates she’s been involved in 60 such projects; Zimmerman has only been at it about a year.
Wal-Mart Store, Inc. – that’s the company’s official name, but the individual stores are called “Walmart,” one word, unhyphenated, said Katie Johnston, the company spokesman – is always renovating stores, said Walston and Zimmerman.
The 709 regular Walmarts, 2,907 Walmart Supercenters – Oneonta’s outlet is a Supercenter – and 182 neighborhood markets all have a spot on the company’s systematic renovation schedule, they said.
Wasko proceeds through the store calmly, an earpiece keeping him up-to-the minute on the goings-on in the huge building.  Employees – he is hiring 50 new ones; 15 vacancies remain to be filled – come up to him with various challenges, and he listens and suggests commonsense outcomes.
Renovations in Kingston, he lets on, are two weeks ahead of Oneonta’s, so when really thorny situations arise, he calls his colleague down there, who’s usually already figured out a solution.

Barbara Deitch of Westford, accompanied by grandson Christopher, rolls through the space next to greeting cards that will soon be the new “Celebration Center,” featuring party supplies.

Janet Blatsos, Milford, fills prescriptions in the bright, open new pharmacy.  The windowed previous site is in the background.

to see more pictures, visit our pictures page --Wal Mart: THE NEXT WAVE

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