MANDAN, N.D. _ Lights flicker on and the aisles are abuzz with workers hanging women’s T-shirts on racks and assembling bikes, preparing for the opening of the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Mandan.
“We’re about ready to go over here,” store manager Andrew Coppersmith said as he walked through the fully-stocked home goods section.
The store is scheduled to open early this fall.
“On the construction, they’re doing a few minor touchups. But for the most part it’s just getting shelves filled,” Coppersmith said.
Coppersmith said the store needs to hire 100 more employees, including photo lab technicians, auto care center mechanics, deli and bakery staff, stockers and cashiers. When fully staffed, it will employ 300 people.
Coppersmith said hiring started in mid-June and the store has begun “gaining momentum” in finding staff. Some of the workers in the new store are transfers from the Bismarck locations and others are new. Most are Mandan locals or from surrounding smaller towns.
Coppersmith said the store is on track to be able to hire the staff it needs for operation.
“Clearly we’re in western North Dakota,” he said, about the challenges of finding workers, but he said there will be “no hesitation opening on time.”
Coppersmith said the average salary for a Wal-Mart employee in North Dakota is $14.23 an hour. That average includes long-term, higher-paid employees who have worked their way up in the company.
The 157,000-square-foot store, though smaller than the Bismarck locations, boasts a Subway, a new store layout, including a split deli and bakery with an oven in front where patrons can smell the bread baking, as well as motion sensing lights in the refrigerated foods section, a car care center that allows for simultaneous oil and tire changes, and 17 checkout lanes.
Coppersmith said he hopes the Mandan location will relieve some of the traffic to the Bismarck stores. His office at the front of the building also will allow him to “keep an eye on” the Mandan store’s traffic and respond quickly.
Coppersmith said one way the Mandan location will deal with customer traffic is through a computerized check-in system for cashiers. Instead of having to find a manager to tell them which lane to work in the cashiers will see it when they punch in and be able to get started faster.
Mandan Business Development Director Ellen Huber said Wal-Mart’s investment in the Mandan building was $13.5 million, according to the building permit. That does not include any of the investment in equipment inside the building or things outside the building like the parking lot or storm water drainage.
The Mandan Wal-Mart is projected to bring $400,000 in sales tax revenue to the city, Huber said. The store will receive a two-year 100 percent property tax break from the city.
Statewide, Coppersmith said, Wal-Mart brought in $54.3 million in sales tax revenue last year, $6.1 million in additional tax revenue, purchased $43 million in merchandise and services and donated $3 million to area charities.
Unlike the Bismarck Wal-Mart locations, the Mandan Wal-Mart does not have additional land for other developments around the store. Land to the west and east of the building has been sold for development though, Huber said.
A Comfort Inn is under construction and a nearby office building is nearly complete with another one under construction, she said.
The north side of Mandan “has been growing considerably,” Huber said.