WORTHINGTON, Oct 27, 2008 (The Daily Globe – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) –
Nine years ago, Worthington became home to the first Wal-Mart supercenter in Minnesota.
That was a long time ago, however, and according to current store manager Jeff Fouch, it’s time for a change. That’s the main reason why Worthington’s Wal-Mart recently underwent an extensive remodeling celebrated Wednesday with a grand re-opening ceremony at the store.

While Wal-Mart was never closed during the renovations, Fouch pointed out the new-look store now offers plenty of conveniences for shoppers.

“Nine years ago, when the store was built, shopping patterns were different,” said Fouch, who became store manager in March after having spent two earlier stints working at Worthington’s Wal-Mart. “For example, our electronics department wasn’t very big, and we didn’t even have the capacity of displaying LCDs or plasma TVs because we didn’t have the power for it. Also, the department just needed to be expanded — all of that area is growing, and we couldn’t hold everything we needed.”

Remodeling work was supposed to begin last year in Worthington, but it turned out to be a busy year for Wal-Mart in Minnesota. Fouch said new Wal-Mart stores were constructed in Litchfield, Fairmont and New Ulm, while store-to-supercenter upgrades took place in Willmar and Montevideo.

Fouch said Wal-Mart’s home office undertakes studies to determine how to go about expansions and remodels. Another example of change in the Worthington store, he said, was incorporating the home department into a more cohesive unit.

“Our bedding, housewares and furniture are now in one area and all kind of tied together,” Fouch said. “Another change we’ve made is our pharmacy … we’ve moved it closer to the entrance so it’s easier for all of our customers.”

Wal-Mart’s updates to the interior design also include low shelving, directional signage and new paint colors both inside the store and out. A new “celebration station” groups together a variety of party items such as pi?atas, balloons and decorating kits, and newly remodeled areas also include energy-efficient technology and environmentally friendly features that help reduce energy and water consumption and minimize waste.

Wednesday’s grand re-opening event, which began at 7:30 a.m., featured a performance by the Worthington High School band and a ribbon-cutting attended by several representatives of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce. According to Fouch, Wal-Mart will continue to play an important part in the lives of Worthington and regional residents.

“People are relying on Wal-Mart more than ever to save money in these tough economic times,” he said. “Our improved store will allow our customers to have an even better one-stop shopping experience.”