By Gary Mitchell
Lowe’s Home Center officials will take possession today of their newly constructed 135,000-square-foot facility at the corner of Prince and Llano Estacado streets, behind the Golden Corral restaurant.
Meanwhile, two semi-trailer loads of forklifts and several semi-trailer loads of steel racks surrounded the new Lowe’s parking lot Tuesday afternoon.
“Today (Tuesday), we’re getting in steel rackings,” said Dave Smith, district manager for Lowe’s. “These are warehouse racks where the merchandise will be placed. The contractor will turn the key over to us (today). We’ll get the racks set up in the receiving area. When we get our mass receiving items next Thursday, there will be 40-45 tractor trailers ready to be unloaded.”
Smith said key individuals from other Lowe’s stores will be available to help with the unloading and sorting process.
“We have a procedure to follow,” he said. “It’s important we follow that routine. Each item has to be checked in properly. We’ll have 90-95 people here next Thursday.”
The store will officially open to the public on Nov. 21, the Friday prior to Thanksgiving.
Store manager Michael Duguid said he would initially hire 125 employees “or maybe more than that.”
“I got here Aug. 2 and started interviewing people,” he said. “We’ve had about 1,200 people to apply for jobs with us. People would tell us, ‘We can’t wait till you open.’ Everyone’s had positive things to say. We’ve got tremendous support from the community.”
“People are very friendly here,” Smith said. “They want to help you out.”
While several community leaders and members have welcomed Lowe’s with open arms, area hardware and lumber dealers tend to be more reserved in their appraisal of Lowe’s impact in the community.
“They’ll hurt our business a little bit, but nothing so dramatic that it will make us close,” said Danny Lucero, store manager of Hacienda Home Center, located in south Clovis. “We have aspects that they don’t have — like our service. We aim to please. We’re starting to make adjustments on items we know we can compete with them.”
George Archibeque, credit manager at Johnson Wholesale Lumber Co., said he expected minimal impact on his business on the west side of town.
“I don’t think it’ll have any impact,” he said. “We’re in the ghetto — we’re in a different part of town. It might affect us for a couple of weeks, but it’ll get over and we’ll be back to normal.”
Archibeque said he expected 95 percent of his customers to stay loyal.
“Customer service and personal attention counts for a lot,” he said.
Roger Cherry, store manager at Triangle Ace Home Center, said store officials had realized a large building center might move into the area at some point, and they had already begun making plans for it.
“We’ve been expanding our store by about 25 percent,” he said. “We’ve also been in the process of bringing in about 4,000 new items. We’ve increased our sales staff over the last few years. We’ve also changed our store hours — we’re trying to become more service-oriented. We’re focusing on day-to-day items everyone would need.”
James Burns, owner of Burns Hardware Do-It Center, said he had an optimistic outlook about Lowe’s being in the neighborhood.
“What we have that they may not have is good, customer service,” he said. “We offer fast in-and-out. For example, you can come in here and get what you want in five minutes and leave. Flooring is a large part of our business. We sell to a lot of industrial- and commercial-type businesses. We feel we have some very loyal customers who have told us they’re staying with us.”
The positive aspect of Lowe’s being is the area is it’s draw from customers in outlying communities, Burns said.
“Lowe’s will keep people in town,” he said. “And I think Lowe’s will bring people to town. It will probably affect my business in Tucumcari more than here. It’s going to be interesting. I’m sure there will be some impact the first two or three months.”