Before remodeling began on Juneau's Fred Meyer last week, the store was like "10 pounds of flour in a 5-pound bag," the company's regional director said Friday morning.
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While shoppers may need more help finding flour on the shelves in coming months, Greg Parker told store associates that remodeling begun this week is the start in making it one of the nicest Fred Meyer stores in the country. The store will expand from its existing 112,000 square feet to 173,000 square feet, adding a section for home furnishings, a drive-through pharmacy, an Alaska USA Federal Credit Union Branch and Juneau's first Starbucks Coffee outlet.
"It's going to be a long store," Store Director John Mayer said. Situated between Egan Drive and Glacier Highway at the base of the mountainside, the only direction for the store to grow is toward the existing credit union building, which will be demolished in the process.
The store expansion could add 100 jobs.
"We try to run as many full-time as we can," Parker said.
The construction work also will employ people during the next eight months, said John Drentlaw, project manager with Western Construction Services in Vancouver, Wash. Most of the subcontractors will be from Juneau and Alaska, he said, and he expects there will be more than 100 people working.
The time schedule for remodeling the store will often mean running two construction shifts, Drentlaw said.
The work began Tuesday, Mayer said, standing beside metal beams forming a cage around some of the construction between the cash registers and shoe section. The customer service counter had to be moved out of the way while the store was closed from Thursday night to Friday morning, he said. Now the customer service is near the grocery-section entrance and the entrance at footwear is blocked off.
Change will be a constant in the coming months, Mayer said. Regular customers sometimes will need help finding things that have been moved overnight.
"It will be a hassle," customer Carey Lee said. But thought the result will be an improvement. "They're making it nicer for people."
Mayer said that when the work is complete in January, the store will look new inside. The food sections are scheduled to relocate in August onto floor space that hasn't been built yet, Mayer said. At the same time, photo and electronics will be moved to the front of the store. In October the jewelry cases also will be moved to the front of the store. The new home furnishings section is scheduled to open in January.
Mayer said it will be easier for people with disabilities to maneuver through the remodeled store. There also will be more parking once the vacant one-time Wendy's, one-time Juneau Electronics store is demolished.
Parker, whose office is in Anchorage, recalled being in the store in 1984, the year that it opened. His father-in-law ran it for four years, he said. In the early days it stocked everything Fred Meyer had to offer.
The community has grown, and the store now will have a chance to grow, he said.