Walmart remodels in time for Back-to-School shopping

Wearing her yellow cape, West Norriton Walmart associate Chardanay White is one of several Walmart associates ready to assist customers as a Back-to-School Helper.
Wearing her yellow cape, West Norriton Walmart associate Chardanay White is one of several Walmart associates ready to assist customers as a Back-to-School Helper. Gary Puleo — digital first media

WEST NORRITON>>Like hundreds of Walmart stores across the country, the West Norriton Walmart has gone through a meticulous makeover while remaining open during the entire remodeling.

Some of the changes in the 16-year-old store at 650 S. Trooper Road, like wider aisles, lower shelves, more visible signage and LED lights to better showcase the expanded produce (broccoli salad kit, anyone) and bakery department — from multi-grain ciabatta rolls to lemon meringue pie and individual New York cheesecake slices, all your favorites are still here — will be fairly obvious to shoppers.

Other improvements, like the “flow” of the customer experience, are more subtle.

“Our store redesign now has a more logical flow to make shopping quick, easy and affordable for our customers,” noted store manager Ron Floczak.

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“We know (Norristown area) residents are busy, which is why we pride ourselves on providing an easy, enjoyable and affordable shopping experience. We’re excited to re-introduce our store to the community just in time for back-to-school shopping. The same low prices with an updated store will make for an improved shopping experience for our customers.”

From Eastport backpacks to Elmer’s Glue and mechanical pencils, the retailer is stocked, as usual, with all the back-to-school essentials.

The difference this year is that customers have a caped “superhero” by their side to help with their shopping.

When a harried shopper is in back-to-school mode, regular associates are transformed into Back-to-School Helpers to assist with identifying the best prices, the trendiest lunch boxes and even the best checkout line to get you out of the store and on your way.

“We found that during holiday shopping, people really liked the Holiday Shoppers so, for the first time ever, we’re implementing the same program with our Back-to-School Helpers,” Floczak explained. “ A Walmart associate physically walks around the store with you to help you find everything on your list and can even help you find the shortest lines.”

Parents can save even more time by consulting online TeacherLists, which they can then use for online shopping or print out for in-store shopping.

“Your child’s teacher can upload their TeacherList onto the Walmart web site, the parent can download this list and buy all of their child’s classroom essentials automatically,” Floczak said, adding that each store was allowed a bit of customization during the remodel.

“Walmart is remodeling stores across the country, and each has some flexibility for the store to reflect the community but, for the most part, they have the same look and feel,” he noted. “For example, our new Pick Up is located at the back of the store while others are located at the front of their stores.”

As the retail giant enhances the in-store experience it has also expanded the in-store pickup of merchandise and grocery orders via app or online.

“Depending on the process, whether you order from a warehouse or from the store, it can take anywhere from a couple of days to a few hours to receive the merchandise,” noted Steve Bean, who is in charge of pickup at the West Norriton store. “People still like to hold an item or try it on, but for the sake of convenience some do like shopping online. And if we’re out of the color you wanted in an item, we’ll call you and change the order right there.”

Bean said he was hopeful that grocery pickup, whereby a customer orders groceries online and reserves a time slot for pick up while a Walmart employee shops and bags the groceries, will soon be implemented at the West Norriton location.

“A lot of Walmart stores have the grocery pickup and it’s working well so we hope to offer it here at some point,” he said.