PUBLISHED: 4:08 PM on Wednesday, September 19, 2007
First Wal-Mart Supercenter in Alaska opens in Juneau
Hundreds of people entered the 121,000-square foot Wal-Mart Supercenter in as it opened the doors at 8 a.m. Sept. 12, at 6525 Glacier Hwy. in Juneau.

"We are thrilled with the opening of the new Wal-Mart Supercenter in Juneau." said Mayor Bruce Botelho in statement release by the company. "We know it will be an economic driver in our community offering access to a wide range of products at competitive prices that will benefit Juneau residents."

Store manager Kai Kauai said store offers an array of merchandise from groceries to souvenirs for tourists. Other general merchandise includes sporting goods, apparel, accessories, fine jewelry and health and beauty aids, as well as electronics showcasing computers, MP3 players and high-definition televisions.

Photo by Amanda Gragert
  Travis Church purchases toys for his children just minutes after Wal-Mart Supercenter opened its doors Wednesday. Church said he had just gotten off work and decided to surprise his children. Wal-Mart associate Autumn Mantur assists with the purchase.
"The store is designed to save shoppers both time and money," Kauai said. "It's exciting to bring something new to our residents, but also be able to offer tourists something they are familiar with."

Wal-Mart plans on hiring 250 employees and are still accepting applications.

Janice Graham is an associate for Wal-Mart in Bellingham, Wash. and is temporarily working in the Juneau store. She said that while the Juneau store is the smallest Supercenter she has seen, it offers convenience for shopping.

"Supercenters offer the community super service. There are a lot of people here this morning, but I'm not surprised. Opening always brings out a good crowd. I was talking to some kids the other day and they asked me when the store was going to open because they wanted to go before they went to school. I thought it was so cute," Graham said.

Lindsay Kreischer said she and her family woke up at 6:30 a.m. to hitting the store early before taking her children to school.

"I wanted to be the first one here and when I got here the parking lot was almost full," she said.

Her daughter Avery Kreischer, 4, carefully scanned the shelves for the perfect toy to purchase as a souvenir for the day. As Kreischer and her children walked to their vehicle in the lot she enthusiastically asked the youngsters about their experience.

"Did everyone have fun? It was supposed to be a lot of fun, now it's time for school," she said.

The store will be open from 6 a.m.-midnight each day, and also features a grocery area, which includes a sushi bar, bakery, delicatessen and fresh produce. There is also a one-hour photo lab and a pharmacy.

Upon its opening, the store announced $33,250 in donations to a number of organizations, including a $5,000 donation to The Juneau Empire to provide the daily newspaper to all area schools.

"Supporting our local schools is a priority to us," Kauai said. "We are grateful to share Wal-Mart's commitment to education here in the Juneau area by kicking off our grand opening with this a donation to education."

Other contributions included American Red Cross of Alaska, Boy Scouts of America, City of Juneau Public Library and Juneau Head Start. In ceremonies held before the opening Wednesday, Wal-Mart presented $5,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Alaska and $10,000 to Glory Hole, Juneau Cooperative Christian Ministry.

The store will also have a budget to give donations away locally throughout the year. Organizations interested in funding can contact the store for details.