PUBLISHED: 5:23 PM on Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Juneau shoppers welcome additions, renovations
Juneau and Southeast families will have more shopping options this summer and fall, as a number of new businesses are opening and old businesses are making exciting changes in the Capital City.

The Home Depot is on the horizon, behind Costco in Juneau's budding industrial area and will open Thursday, June 28, said store manager Troy Wolfinbarger.

Currently, Home Depot employees are stocking shelves with inventory and preparing for its opening.

The store is 102,000 square foot with 48,000 square foot of covered storage. "That puts us the same size as a couple of stores in Alaska," he said.

Approximately 140 employees will be working in the store; along with local help they brought in workers from Florida, Texas, Oregon and Idaho.

"We call ourselves 'orange-blooded,' if you call yourself an employee," he said.

Store features include an outdoor garden center, expanded light cloud display, a full design center and even a full bath showroom. The store will provide self-checkout stands in addition to regular checkout stands with the latest electronic packages and upgraded hardware.

"A lot of the things we're bringing to Juneau are the latest and the greatest," Wolfinbarger said.

The official name will be Alaska's Capital City The Home Depot, and they plan on flying the State flag as well as the American flag.

The old K-Mart near Switzer Creek is being renovated into a new Wal-Mart, offering everything from shoes to dry goods at discount prices.

Juneau's Wal-Mart will also be a SuperCenter store. "It will be the first SuperCenter in Alaska," said general manager Kai Kauai.

The SuperCenter will be a condensed model-an urban prototype, he said.

The store will most likely open around the second week of this September, and is 120,000 square feet, he said.

"When I first got here there was snow on the ground, it was scheduled to open a month earlier," Kauai said.

Because they purchased the store from K-Mart, there were limitations to building structure.

"We had to modify it a bit," he said.

The store will not have a nail and hair salon, vision center, Mc Donald's restaurant or tire and lube center.

One-third of the store will be a grocery section, including produce, service deli area, bakery, a small seafood center and dry goods.

With rumors spreading around town on Costco's expansion including increased food court options, vision and photo center and pharmacy, improvements aren't finalized.

Assistant manager Steve Drake said, "nothing for sure," concerning plans.

Olive Garden or an Applebee's restaurant opening near Wal-Mart, have been rumored.

"I don't know for sure, they didn't show any plans," said Kauai.

According to said media relations Mara Frazier, "Olive Garden does not have any current plans to open a new location in Alaska."

When we put up a Wal-Mart store, we usually have followers that come through, Kauai said.

Followers include businesses such as Target or fast food restaurants.

The SuperCenter will be opening a hire center on May 28 to recruit employees.

Wal-Mart is one of the largest private employers in the U.S., with over 1.8 million associated worldwide and more than 1.3 million in the U.S., according to their Web site,

They will be staffed with approximately 270 people, said Kauai.

"We don't hire outside; we will be operating out of the hire center, and set up store from scratch," he said.

"We're looking forward to working in the community; we hope to help with the volunteer efforts with the non-profit projects," he said.

A new Breeze-In Grocery location is also under construction in Juneau.

"We are planning on opening around Labor Day if all goes as planned," said operations manager Dean Damitio.

The new Breeze-In will be located at 5701 concrete way in Lemon Creek.

Approximately 20,000 square feet, it will house a contemporary bakery, deli and catering facilities upstairs in the new building.

All fresh products will be made here and transferred daily to the other Breeze-In locations, said Damitio.

"The design will have more of an up-scale specialty store decor and the biggest difference will be the hot food program, focusing on high-quality hot food for the person or family on the go," he said.

The facility will feature a new liquor store and an increased variety of wines and spirits.

Additionally, the store will have a drive thru window offering a wide variety of coffee drinks and a selection of quick hot food.