The Fred Meyer on Lakeway Drive is on the tail end of a six-month-long remodel aimed at increasing the shelf space in areas of interest to the community.
Although the remodel won’t be complete until Oct. 25, store director Bill Pelan does not expect the construction to interfere with the annual College Night.
Fred Meyer’s College Night is an annual event when the store opens after hours to college students and others, offering competitive deals and live entertainment, will start 11 p.m. Sept. 23, one month before completion. College Night this year should actually run more smoothly, Pelan said. A lot of Fred Meyers haven’t really utilized baggers, Pelan said, but recently the store added new check stands with a cashier and a bagger.
“The lines for College Night should move quite a bit faster,” Pelan said. “One of our challenges has been handling that much business in two hours.”
Western graduate Jack Moore had been to College Night during his early years at Western and said getting out of College Night was the longest part.
“I used to work at Costco, and having a cashier and a bagger was a necessity,” Moore said. “That for sure is going to make things go a lot faster. “
Only a few sections will be under construction during College Night, including the seafood and meat sections, Pelan said. The liquor section will also be closed for remodeling, but Pelan said those areas were never open during College Night.
The cost of the remodel, including hiring 15 new people to assist with the remodel, has not been disclosed to the public, but Pelan expects the new business to offset the cost of the remodel.
“With this store, we will expect a return on investment in less than two years,” Pelan said.
A few areas of the remodel had some setbacks. The produce and food area had electrical problems during the remodel, which delayed the remodeling by a day or so, Pelan said.
The service deli area is also a day late, but this will not delay the grand reopening, Pelan said.
“We always finish on time,” Pelan said. “It’ll just take extra work toward the end.”
The remodel, which started on April 15, focused on expanding several store areas, including seafood and nutrition, but also added a few other options not previously available.
The seafood section will have almost double the holding capacity, and the produce section will be much larger and feature more organic products.
The newly reopened Fred Meyer will include Murray’s Cheese, a New York style high-end cheese shop, with better-quality products, Pelan said. The store will also stock higher-quality lunchmeat.
The nutrition center will be relocated to another part of the store where it can have more shelf space, Pelan said.
Moore, who is living in Bellingham for the foreseeable future, likes that Fred Meyer is moving in that direction.
“Fred Meyer is known for its variety,” Moore said. “It helps to know it’ll have a lot more options.”