The new Merrill Walmart supercenter is set to open April 9. The current store will close at 5 p.m. on April 8 and the new supercenter will open with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 7:15 a.m. April 9 and the doors will open to shoppers at about 8 a.m.
About 60 employees have been working in the new store since March 3 to get it ready for opening. Crews are working in three shifts, 24 hours a day to set up the store.
“It’s a mini miracle to take a store from nothing and in just over a month have it ready for customers to shop,” said store manager Matt Colby.
The new supercenter is meant to provide one-stop shopping for Merrill customers, reducing the need to travel to Wausau, Colby said.
“The hope is that customers will come here and shop and save going to Wausau,” he said. “We want to keep people in Merrill.”
Colby said he also anticipates getting more customers coming off the highway, picking up supplies on their way up north.
The supercenter features a full grocery similar to other supercenters in the area, including a deli, bakery and produce section.
Merrill’s current Walmart, built in 1989, was the first Walmart store in the area. Walmart is no longer building those types of stores, transitioning to the supercenter format. The new supercenter is 120,000 square feet, compared to the old store’s 78,000 square feet.
In comparison to the old store, the supercenter offers a greater selection of merchandise in every department, including sporting goods, furniture, baby needs, electronics, pet supplies, apparel, toys, health  and beauty and automotive. Merrill’s Walmart will have a similar selection of items that consumers are used to seeing in the supercenters elsewhere.
“We’ll have all that stuff and people don’t have to drive everywhere,” Colby said.
The lawn and garden area is ready for spring, including a outdoor area twice the size of the old store.
In preparation for the new store opening, Walmart hired about 60 additional associates in Merrill. The store will have a total of 180 employees. Among them are about 60 employees who have been with the Merrill Walmart store since it originally opened.
“About half of our associates have been with the company for 25 years,” Colby said. “They love what they do and they’re still doing it.”
A Subway restaurant will be located inside the supercenter.
The store will also feature a drive-through pharmacy, which is a relative rarity for Walmarts, Colby said.
While the old store is growing increasingly empty, customers have been looking forward to the new store, Colby said.
“For the most part they’re very understanding and excited about the new store,” he said.
Once Walmart is open for business in the supercenter, a crew will come in to the old store and dismantle the Walmart fixtures in preparation for whatever new business might locate there.