Wal-Mart Supercenter opening in mid-May in Athens Township

SAYRE (AP) – After more than a year of construction, associates at the Walmart in Athens Township are gearing up to move into the store’s new, larger location.

Major construction is complete at the $3.5 million, 178,000-square-foot supercenter, which will include a full grocery selection, hair and nail salons, a vision center and a Subway restaurant.

The larger store, at about 75,000 square feet bigger than the store’s existing location on Elmira Street, has been years in the making, said store manager Adam Kerstetter.

“We’ve talked about doing this for years and years as a company,” Kerstetter said. “We can’t wait to have it open.”

The new store, located directly behind the existing location on the former Bob’s Honda property, will be open 24 hours, Kerstetter said. Associates are stocking shelves and preparing the new location for opening day, scheduled for May 21.

An additional 165 employees have been added to the store’s 200-person staff, and Kerstetter said about 50 more associates will be hired for the new location.

After operations are moved to the new store, work will begin to demolish the old store, which will become a parking area. Several measures will be in place during that phase of the project for customer convenience and safety, Kerstetter said.

A side entrance will be used at the new store for safe customer flow, and shuttles will transport customers from the current parking lot to the new store. Associates will be placed at the front to guard full carts while customers retrieve their cars and bring them to a loading zone closer to the building, Kerstetter said.

Walmart will throw a larger grand opening event, scheduled for Aug. 6, once the parking area is complete. In the meantime, customers seem excited for the larger store’s new offerings, including groceries, bakery and deli items, Kerstetter said.

“I think the community’s ready for it,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming.”