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Cottage Grove Walmart sets March 12 opening

Employees of the new Walmart Supercenter in Cottage Grove unpack several pallets full of Easter candy Wednesday, an item Store Manager Reid Charpentier said is coming in by the truckloads. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)1 / 3
The store will facilitate customers through 20 regular checkout lanes and eight self-checkout lanes. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)2 / 3
More than 50 workers unwrapped product, installed shelves and stocked items Wednesday throughout the new Walmart Supercenter in Cottage Grove. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)3 / 3

It’s all hands on deck as employees of the new 177,000-square-foot Walmart Supercenter in Cottage Grove unwrap product and stock shelves in preparation for the grand opening set for March 12.

Since taking possession of the completed building on Feb. 3, Store Manager Reid Charpentier said set-up is significantly ahead of schedule.

“There are a couple of things left to do in regard to fixtures but there are a lot of sections that are shoppable right now,” he said Wednesday. “Every day you come in it looks like a completely different store. That’s how fast we’re getting things done.”

Two weeks ago crews installed the 20 checkout and eight self-checkout lanes, coolers, produce stands, and clothing and grocery shelves.

Charpentier highlighted the energy-efficient refrigeration system in the grocery section that uses motion activated LED lights. He said the lights only turn on when it senses movement and conserves energy during slow shopping periods.

“We also have skylights that provide natural light during the day,” Charpentier said. “Right now we don’t actually have any lights on. It just goes to show the sustainability of this building.”

More than 100 skylights are installed throughout the building, he said.

Since first advertising for employees in December, the company has hired hundreds workers, many of whom are Cottage Grove residents.

Andrea Turgeon, a new employee who was taking inventory of products Wednesday, said she is excited a store is opening near her.

“This place is only a couple of miles from my house,” she said. “And I’m happy I don’t have to drive far to shop at a Walmart. The prices are cheaper, too.”

Charpentier said nearly all of the anticipated employment roles have been filled but added that the company is always taking applications.

Aside from grocery and retail, the store will also provide shoppers with a Subway restaurant, Da Vi Nails salon, a pharmacy, garden center and liquor store.

“This has been an intense experience,” Charpentier said of opening his first store. “But we have an incredible team here and they have been fantastic to work with. We’re excited to get this open.”