Walmart opens new, larger store on 75th Street

The world’s largest retailer has just experienced a growth spurt in Naperville.

Walmart’s new location, just around the corner from its old one, is scheduled for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, with the doors to open to shoppers at 8 a.m.

At 185,000 square feet, the 24-hour store on 75th Street is more than 68 percent larger than its predecessor on Route 59. It also brings features on the 18.5-acre site that weren’t offered in the former location.

“Self check-out is a great convenience for the customer,” said store manager Greg Szarynski, alluding to the corral-like arrangement of digital scanning stations where shoppers can bypass the cashier line.

An expanded array of departments focused on fresh bakery, meats, produce, deli items and prepared foods enables the new store to carry a wider selection of products as well.

Visitors will find more electronics, women’s clothing, garden supplies and toys, too, under the retailer’s new one-stop shopping roof.

“If she wants Rubbermaid containers and an apple pie, she can get both here,” Szarynski said.

He also showed a visitor assorted features intended to minimize the new facility’s carbon footprint, including tighter cooler seals, motion-activated lighting, skylights and recycling vessels in both front and back of the house.

“A lot of thought went into making this store as energy-efficient as possible,” he said.

About 200 people came out to family night on Sunday, a kickoff for the store’s employees and their households, Szarynski said. The staff head count at the new store is about 300, including around 160 who are transferring from the previous location.

The added numbers are generally related to the increase in service-related positions, Szarynski said.

Stocking a store of such magnitude is no small task. The undertaking began a month ago and continued at a brisk pace Monday morning. Szarynski said the walls were up before the weather turned cold last fall, which insulated the construction and opening timeframe from delays caused by ice and snow.

“We got in before the winter … so everything stayed on schedule,” he said.

Naperville officials encouraged the expansion, granting the retail powerhouse a sale tax incentive package worth about $1.75 million in August 2012. The arrangement provides Walmart a sales tax rebate taken from the 1 percent share of the Illinois sales tax that would otherwise go into the city’s general fund.

Comprised of tax receipts from the state that exceed a baseline year figure at the Route 59 location, the rebate will extend for 10 years or until it reaches $1.75 million, whichever occurs first. The deal required Walmart to open its new doors no later than May 1.

City Council members said they supported the tax break in part to prevent Walmart from moving out of town when it outgrew the old store, taking jobs and sales tax revenue with it.

Naperville City Manager has estimated that the municipality’s share of sales tax revenue will come to about $750,000 annually.

Retail sector

Situated just southeast of 75th Street and Route 59, the new store is part of a retail sector that serves as a virtual gold mine for the city budget. Christine Jeffries, president of the Naperville Development Partnership, has said the retailers in that quadrant alone — including Costco, Lowe’s, Starbucks and other major chains — already generate more sales tax income than the entire downtown area. Jeffries estimated the newcomer Walmart will put the city’s total yearly revenue benefit over $2 million.

“It’s pretty substantial,” she said.