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Creating a hardware paradise
Hey grownups: The new Lowes store on SR 303 may be the biggest toy store in town.
That is, if you get your kicks from home improvement projects.
High ceilings, thousands and thousands of feet of floor space and shelves yielding products like DeWalt drills, Skil saws and GE lightbulbs should reel in the after-holiday shoppers when the store opens at the end of December.
Until then, store manager Matt Simonich is directing an organizing marathon.
A year after bulldozers ripped through the 15-acre site and concrete work was completed, a team of dedicated rack-setters spent 10 days filling the store with row after row of 12-foot-high high shelving.
In a six-week period we had the inside of the store all put together, Simonich said.
Then all other merchandise arrived, such as lumber from Seattle.
And lighting from California.
And conduit from New Jersey.
The most challenging part of assembling the store was the pure physical work. The sweat and muscle strain, Simonich said.
There were a lot of people with a lot of sore muscles, the tall, stocky manager joked with a smile.
The home improvement and hardware store lies one-half mile north along the Wheaton Way/Highway 303 corridor, and will close the doors on its 110,000 -square-foot store once the new one is open.
No word yet on a possible new tenant, although Simonich said it once contained a mini-mall.
Simonich was hired two years ago to manage the old store, which he said was very cramped. The ceilings were at least 10 feet lower and there was 40,000 square feet less space. There wasnt enough room for delivery trucks to maneuver very well and it just didnt have a super-store mentality.
In the new store, Simonich placed the key-making section right up front, because that is their most requested item. To the right are the seasonal items and to the left is an enclosed, brightly-lit power tool section.
Around back is the receiving section.
Barb Fallehy is the manager there, and she has worked with Lowes since it opened in Bremerton 11 years ago. Back then it was called Eagle Hardware.
Fallehy finds the new digs awesome.
You dont have to get wet anymore, she said, because trucks can back right up to the store.
At the last store they had to unload merchandise outside, even in rain or snow.
I dont look good with wet hair, Fallehy chuckles.
There are still seven workers from the original 1991 store left.
Its a real solid crew, Simonich said. He will bring over all of his workers from the other store. Currently 66 percent are helping set up shop at the new store, while the other third runs the old one until the end of the month.
Overall, the huge rolls of carpet perched 15 feet in the air at the new store and the wide walkways, combined with huge shelves, can make a visitor feel small in comparison.
Early on, city officials bargained against the move down the road, because the new Lowes lies outside city limits. The loss of sales tax revenue for the city is expected to be $250,000 to $300,000.
Later an agreement was coordinated where tax revenues would be shifted away gradually.
In the first year, 75 percent of the first year revenues are funneled back into the city, with 25 percent going to the county. In the second year the split is 50-50 and by the third year it is 25 percent to the city and 75 percent county.