Opening of Silverdale Safeway is grand

"The milk and eggs look and taste the same, but the management at the new Silverdale Safeway store hopes the newly opened building provides customers with an improved shopping experience.After almost 20 years at the Silverdale Plaza on Bucklin Hill Road, the company began construction of the new building six months ago. It opened the new store last Wednesday. The $3 million project moved the store from south of the Rite Aid Pharmacy to the north side and will give customers plenty of benefits over the old facility, said store manager Duane Vickery.In addition to improved lighting, more shelf space and color-coded aisles, Vickery said the wider aisles will make shopping easier for customers during busy periods of the day.You can actually get three carts down the aisle at once, he said.The floral department is three times larger than at the previous building, and the produce department - while the same size as before - has a more modern layout and design, Vickery said. The misting system in the produce department has been equipped with strobe lights and recorded thunder to warn customers when they are going to activate, but also for amusement.It's kind of neat for the kids, he said.Customers at the deli and China Express department will notice a larger section, as well as a nearby seating area.The 10,000 square foot facility allows for additional display and shopping space, Vickery said, including three large lobbies throughout the store for promotional items.We are able to carry over 65,000 items now, said Vickery, who has worked for Safeway for 23 years, including six at the Silverdale store. We have more variety throughout basically every section.Toward the front of the store, Vickery said customers will notice an additional three checkout lanes - for a total of 12 - and the customer-service and video counters.With it at the front, customers don't have to walk around the store to find it, Vickery said.The new facility also offers restrooms at the front and the back of the store and contains ocean-related decorations such as lighthouses and waves in an effort to stick with a familiar Central Kitsap theme.Silverdale is known for Whaling Days, so we decided to stick with that, Vickery said.Outside the building, Safeway patrons will find about 300 parking spaces, twice the amount of the old facility. Extra handicapped parking and landscaped islands also have been implemented throughout the parking lot, Vickery said.In an attempt to reduce the use of Bucklin Hill and Silverdale Way, Vickery said construction crews created an access road leading to Blaine Avenue.Vickery said because of contractual agreements, the store doesn't have a pharmacy, which could change if one of the nearby pharmacies left the area. While there is currently no bank positioned inside, there is a Bank of America ATM at the front of the store.The initial move into the new store began the first week in March, with about 25 employees bringing equipment over and stocking shelves, which has expanded to about 50 in the last week, he said.About 35 new employees have been hired to assist in staffing the new facility, said Bill Bokovoy, secretary treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 381. With the influx of new employees - bringing the total number to about 120 - Bokovoy said many of the longtime staff received promotions.Which makes a lot of them happy, he said.The new building and equipment within the store will allow the company to compete with nearby competitors Albertsons and Fred Meyer Marketplace, Bokovoy said.We've been pushing for new equipment in the stores, he said.Bokovoy said he attended the March 29 ribbon-cutting ceremony and enjoyed seeing the reaction of both employees and customers at the new facility.It's always nice to have a nice store, he said."

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