Walmart in Durango has completed a 10-week remodel to widen aisles, lower shelves and brighten refrigerator cases with LED lights.
The changes give the familiar store layout a more open appearance.
"Look how wide this is," store manager Bob Adamson said last week as he looked down one aisle, gesturing like a fisherman explaining a big catch.
"It's a better customer experience for our customers," he said.
Lower shelves should make it easier for customers, many of whom are women, to reach products, and the LED lights use less electricity, he said.
The electronics department has doubled in size, and the pet supplies department also has expanded.
The remodel is part of a nationwide push by Walmart. Eighty percent of the chain's stores are scheduled to be remodeled within the next five years, Adamson said.
Cortez's Walmart was remodeled last year, and Farmington's are scheduled to be remodeled next year, Adamson said.
The store at 1155 South Camino del Rio sprawls across 180,000 square feet and employs about 380 workers. It outsells the Cortez Walmart and one of two Farmington stores, Adamson said.
Walmart opened in Durango at 9 a.m. July 15, 1998, amid some concern among downtown business owners. The Arkansas-based retail giant agreed to adhere to Durango's color scheme, provide landscaping and pay for $1.7 million worth of public street improvements.
The property was annexed into the city, providing valuable sales-tax revenue.
Nearly 12 years later, the "hue and cry" regarding Walmart's entry into town has proved much ado about nothing.
"I can remember a lot of the people that were against it," said former City Manager Bob Ledger. "It wasn't too long after (Walmart) opened their doors that I'd see them in there shopping."
Ledger said Walmart did not appear to have any negative effect on downtown businesses.
"Up until last year, sales-tax collections in the Central Business District remained strong," he said. "There wasn't any appreciable decline that you could trace to Walmart."
Ledger noted that many of the businesses that surround Walmart, including Louisa's Movie House and Electronics, Durango Liquor and Wine Co. and Durango Joe's Coffee, are locally owned.
Adamson said Walmart hired an additional 40 workers during the remodel. None of the new employees has been released, with some taking jobs that opened through normal attrition, he said.
Durango's Walmart has some unique aspects. The store gets significant tourist traffic, Adamson said. The store even offers hooded sweatshirts and other souvenirs branded with "Durango." That area of the store converts to selling ski clothing in the winter.