Wal-Mart opens dialogue with Craig leaders | CraigDailyPress.com

Wal-Mart opens dialogue with Craig leaders

Craig’s Wal-Mart Supercenter likely won’t be the blue and gray box associated with the brand name.

Corporate representatives on Thursday said the design of the proposed 100,000-square-foot store will reflect the community and mesh with existing architecture and community themes.

Mike Ciletti, with Phase Line Strategies, said Wal-Mart officials realized that fighting for a uniform building design wasn’t worth the time and money the corporation was spending and decided to tailor each store to the community it was located in.

“We’re going to meet the standards wherever we go,” Ciletti said. “We could come in with gray and blue, but we’re not. We try to make the store the store of the community and incorporate its theme and history.”

He said an architect will visit Craig to get an idea about existing construction, local design standards and community themes. A sketch will be created based on that information, which Ciletti expects to have by the end of this month.

That sketch will be preliminary and open for input from city officials and community members through the city’s approval process.

“Wal-Mart gets held to a different standard no matter where it goes,” Ciletti said. “People want answers to questions sooner than later.”

Ciletti and Wal-Mart spokesman Keith Morris were in Craig on Thursday to speak to the Craig Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and other community leaders to answer questions about the proposed store.

The Craig City Council has approved Wal-Mart’s plan to subdivide a 23-acre lot on West Victory Way into six parcels. What remains is a months-long process of getting approval on a site development plan, which will include architectural, parking, landscaping, access review.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring and take eight to 10 months to complete.

The store would employ about 100 people — some of whom are expected to transfer from other stores, Morris said.

A market study indicated that filling that number of jobs would be difficult, but possible, he said. He expects to capture some of the people who commute to Steamboat Springs to work.

Wal-Mart’s average wage in Colorado is $10.70 an hour, but Morris said it will be months before it is known what wages will be like in the Craig store. He said the corporation will study other local businesses seeking entry-level employees and set a comparable wage scale.

All full-time employees will, after 180 days, have access to medical and dental benefits that start at $7.60 a week and increase based on the type of benefits sought and the number of people being covered, Morris said. He expects 70 of the 100 positions to be full time.

Part-time employees are eligible for benefits after two years.

Employees are not the only things the corporation hopes to steal from Steamboat Springs. They expect Craig’s Supercenter to take business from Steamboat’s store, too.

“We want there to be an impact on Wal-Mart in Steamboat Springs,” Morris said.

He said the 57,000-square-foot Steamboat store is serving more people than it was built to serve, which makes it difficult for employees to keep shelves stocked.

“It’s not the best atmosphere,” Morris said. “It’s not our best-looking store.”

In-store surveys indicate that 20 percent of customers in the Steamboat Springs Wal-Mart are from Craig.

Had the corporation been able to expand the Steamboat Springs store, it still would have considered building in Craig, but it would have delayed the project, Morris said.

“By placing a store here, it keeps the revenue here,” he said.

He said the numbers are surprising and more indicative of a community that doesn’t have other retail options.

Although the Rifle Wal-Mart also serves more customers than it was designed for, Morris said studies don’t show that a big percentage of those customers are from Craig.

The Wal-Mart in Durango has partnered with the area Chamber of Commerce on a program to promote all area businesses. The store boasts a kiosk that directs customers to shop downtown businesses and it does the same thing in its advertising.

Morris said that partnership is formed on the local level and he doesn’t see any reason why it couldn’t be duplicated in Craig.

Still, the opening of a Super–center is likely to impact some Craig businesses.

“Most likely the bulk of the impact will be on City Market and Safeway and the consumer,” Morris said.

Studies show that grocery prices fall 17 percent to 20 percent in a community where a Wal-Mart has opened.

“City Market and Safeway will compete,” Morris said. “They do it all over the country.”

He thinks a competitive situation gives businesses and incentive to offer a better selection, better service and better prices.

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