SKOWHEGAN — Shotguns and deer rifles sit in glass cases next to baseball gloves and picnic supplies.

There are blue jeans and boots, jewelry, magazines, dog food, iPods, televisions, underwear, beer and soda in wide, open aisles from the new grocery store, bakery and deli all the way to the lawn and garden center.

It’s the new, expanded Walmart Supercenter, and it officially opens with a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday at 8 a.m.

“It’s nice; it’s going to be real, real convenient for us,” Walmart shopper Joseph Casaletto said Monday. “Right now we’ve been traveling to Waterville, and we live in Skowhegan. We appreciate it. A lot of people are going to appreciate it. It’s a nice place, they’ll do good.”

The $6 million expansion of the existing Walmart began nearly a year ago, growing the original store by 30,000 square feet to about 133,000 square feet, store manager Paul Conklin said during a tour of the new store Monday.

“There’s a produce department with our expanded foods, bakery, deli — that’s what everybody’s eating in the break room right now,” Conklin said. “The grocery section, right off the bat will be the big thing that you’ll see coming into the new store. The apparel section is a whole new set up; we’ve gone to walls, which displays the merchandise a little bit better.”

There’s also a pharmacy, a credit union and a Dunkin Donuts.

Conklin said the Skowhegan Walmart records about 20,000 transactions per week. The company estimates a 15 percent increase in traffic at the expanded store, he said.

The store’s expansion adds 40 new jobs, bringing the total number of employees to about 200, according to Conklin. Of the total employment roster, about 80 will be full time, with benefits and an average hourly wage of $13.87.

Conklin said part-time associates become eligible for some medical benefits if they work more than 1,000 hours annually.

The Skowhegan store, like all new Walmart stores, includes energy-efficient technology and environmentally friendly features to reduce energy and water consumption and minimize waste, according to a Walmart release. The store’s skylights let in sunlight and reduce the amount of energy required to light the store by up to 75 percent.

LED lighting throughout the store operates 70 percent more efficiently than traditional fluorescent lighting. Part of the cement used in the concrete flooring is made with recycled materials, and the floor’s finish reduces the need for chemical cleaners. Low-flow toilets and faucets reduce the water used in the bathrooms.

“I like the new store a lot better, actually — there’s more of a variety of stuff,” said shopper Amanda Musotic of South Solon. “We can go shopping here instead of the Waterville Walmart where we used to go.”

Doug Harlow — 474-9534

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