The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the hoped-for Fourth of July opening.
“Illinois had a shutdown for nonessential workers, and construction was a gray area but it slowed everything down from the supply chains to the construction to really every aspect of the project, so it was a real challenge,” said Rubenstein. “I think we did a really good job as being able to communicate as much as possible while we were all working from home, but at the end of the day this is retail, and you’ve got to be in front of the guest, and you’ve got to be in front of the team, and there’s no doubt it has been a real challenge. Illinois law requires face mask coverings inside. Obviously, making sure that everyone has a safe experience is paramount. Would we love to show our guests that we’re smiling. Of course, we can’t.”
Coincidentally, the sheer size, open layout and large aisles of Wally’s are conducive for safe social distancing, they said. There’s also a lot of space at all of the checkouts and experience stations to allow people to move around in a safe manner, they said.
“Obviously, we designed the store well before COVID happened,” said Rubenstein. “We wanted to make sure that we could process as many guests in a safe and efficient way that provides the experience that we want them to be excited about and tell people about once they arrive at their destination. Obviously, it wasn’t intentional from COVID, but it I think it has worked out well for us.”
Also, the cleanliness of the restrooms is “a big thing when families are thinking about where to stop,” Wallis said. All of the bathroom fixtures have contactless motion sensors.
“It was a cool space,” Lydia Lindenberg, a customer driving home from St. Louis, told CSP Daily News. “We appreciated the openness of the store and the contactless bathrooms. And these days, it was nice to have a new place to stop that made social distancing easier.”
Customers can use either traditional checkouts or eight self-checkout units, four up front and four at a secondary entrance. All of the credit-card readers have the ability to use the Wally’s app or Apple Pay. And all the doors to the facility are also motion activated.