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New Lowe's set to open in two weeks

January 06, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, PA. - It's no surprise that a new Waynesboro store smells of fresh paint.

What is a bit shocking is that the employees of the Lowe's store are able to create literally thousands of varieties of that paint.

The Lowe's home improvement store off Pa. 16 is scheduled to open to the public for the first time at 6 a.m. Friday, Jan. 20, about seven months after the start of construction.

"Our employees are so excited to help customers," said Kirk Arnold, the store's manager.

The early-morning hours of operation are designed to allow contractors to "get in early and get on the job site," Arnold said.

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The 116,000-square-foot store was bustling Thursday as many of the employees underwent training from various vendors. The Lowe's store will employ about 150 people, depending on the season.

Lowe's neighbor in the Washington Commons shopping complex, Wal-Mart, is scheduled to open this summer, according to Chris Firme, a Washington Township supervisor.

The two big-box stores are expected to generate a significant increase in traffic on Pa. 16, so the developer, Echo Real Estate Services/Development, paid for the construction of part of Washington Township Boulevard.

Those stores will be fully accessible off Washington Township Boulevard, which is a relief route meant to funnel traffic to the north of Waynesboro and alleviate congestion on Pa. 16.

There are plans to complete the road in stages over the next 15 years, Firme said.

Business presence



While the two stores could potentially detract business from existing Waynesboro stores, an official with the area chamber of commerce hopes the hike in traffic volume will actually help other proprietors.

"It's going to change consumers' habits," said MaryBeth Hockenberry, executive director of the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce.

She explained that area residents would often drive to Chambersburg, Pa., or Hagerstown to shop at Lowe's and then also visit nearby stores there. Now, she predicts Lowe's customers will take advantage of the businesses that Waynesboro has to offer.

"We have a ton of stuff. Now all you'll have to leave for is the mall," she said.

Joe Rock, co-owner of Green Arbor Flower and Shrubbery Center on Pa. 16, said Thursday that while his store will compete with Lowe's for shrubbery sales, he thinks customers will find high-end merchandise at his 30-year-old business.

"I think with the increased traffic, we'll pick up business. We're going to play it by ear," he said.

Denny Cordell, one of the owners of Waynesboro Builders Supply on West Third Street, isn't opposed to Lowe's coming to town, even if it brings increased competition.

"They're good stores. I shop them," he said.

Sometimes customers of Cordell's business, in its 45th year, will see him at the Lowe's store in Chambersburg and initiate friendly teasing.

But he's almost certain the big and small stores can coexist peacefully.

Cordell said a local resident can buy a water heater for a good price at Lowe's, then rely on his seven employees to find the correct hook-up parts and help install it.

"It pretty much comes down to service," he said.

More than lumber



In addition to a garden center, the Lowe's store has lighting, plumbing, small and big appliances, tools and carpeting.

Arnold believes the stores have everything a person needs to build a house and make it livable. If the store is indeed missing something, Arnold said it usually can be ordered.

Also, the store manager feels Lowe's sells merchandise that is well-suited for the level of the job. This includes a lawn mower that can handle 1 acre and another designed for 5 acres.

"We have that 'good,' 'better,' 'best' philosophy. When consumers come in, they have choices," said Arnold.

Over his almost 11 years with the company, Arnold has seen more women shoppers come through the stores' doors. Nowadays, there's just as many female patrons as male.

Lowe's stores are designed with wide aisles and bright lighting to make them resemble shopping centers, Arnold said.

The Waynesboro store is approximately the same size as the ones in Hagerstown and Chambersburg, Pa., he said.

Company headquarters, which oversees the openings of 150 stores a year, debated about building a smaller, 94,000-square-foot facility in Waynesboro. Instead, it opted for the larger store in light of an area housing boom.

Arnold said he has hired many local residents and had others transfer from the Hagerstown and Chambersburg stores.

He is working with company officials to plan a grand opening event in the spring.

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