Walmart's new supercenter at 175th and Halsted streets opened its doors early Wednesday, Oct. 26, with fanfare provided by the Homewood-Flossmoor High School marching band and cheers by the store's staff.
Walmart and village officials marked the occasion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony presided over by Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld.
The 210,000-square-foot store replaces the smaller store two miles south on Halsted Street in Glenwood, which closed at the end of the business day Tuesday, Oct. 25.
Store Manager Dan Wehling said 200 associates from the Glenwood store transferred to the new store, and 200 new employees were hired to complete the staff.
Irfan Badibanga, Walmart regional vice president of Northern Illinois, and Karisa Sprague, North Central Division senior vice president, lauded the efforts of the store management team and associates for their hard work making the move.
"It is tough relocating a store," Badibanga said. He and Sprague gave special mention to Wehling and to Pratik Joshi, district manager, for their leadership. Wehling comes to the Homewood store with 12 years at the company, seven of those in store management positions.
Sprague said some of the Glenwood associates worked Tuesday night to finish last-minute details at that store and were at the new store first thing Wednesday morning to help with opening day.
"Look around at this beautiful store," Wehling said to the assembled associates. "You made this happen."
The store no longer resembles the Kmart that occupied the building until late 2013. Wehling said the structure was completely renovated and expanded by about 15,000 square feet.
The spaciousness allows for a wider variety of products and services than were available at the Glenwood store, he said.
The supercenter has full grocery offerings, including fresh produce, fresh meats and full service deli and bakery.
It also has a full service money center, a garden center, a pharmacy and a fuel center. Wehling said he has high hopes for the success of the fuel center in the new location, with its proximity to Interstate 80/294.
Sprague thanked Hofeld and the village for supporting the project.
"We're delighted to have Walmart here. We worked cooperatively with them while they were trying to open and it was a very good experience," Hofeld said. "We want to see you (be) very successful."
He noted that Walmart's success will help the village with an influx of sales tax revenue.
"We know the value of community," Wehling said. "The Homewood community had been very supportive of us."
As a sign of appreciation, he said, the company was making donations of more than $6,700 to local organizations. To those with representatives at the event, he presented three checks, one for $1,000 to the South Suburban Family Shelter, one for $1,000 to Churchill School and one for $2,500 to the Homewood Police Department.
"Thank you Homewood Police Department for all you've done throughout this process, to help provide safety to our guests and our associates," he said. "We look forward to a great relationship with you."
Store hours are 6 a.m. to midnight seven days a week. The store's Facebook page is at www.facebook.com/walmart5404.