Of the Baker City Herald

Albertsons Baker City store director Rand Racey knows how to motivate the crew of almost 100 people, including 45 new hires, who've been busy the past three weeks setting up displays in his $2.6 million gleaming new store.

Feed them at every opportunity.

Keep the bakery ovens turned up to pump out throughout every corner of the 45,600 square foot store that motivating odor of fresh-baked cookies.

And don't forget to circulate from time to time to dispense said cookies. After all, an army marches on its stomach.

andquot;We've been waiting a long time for this day,andquot; Racey said, referring to Wednesday's 8 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony. andquot;These people are all excited. We've received a lot of help to get us ready.andquot;

That help, Racey said, has come in the form of Albertsons employees who work in division offices in Portland, Spokane and Seattle. Their help both at the new store in the Baker Towne Square and at the old location, 2300 Resort St., which will be closed for the final time tonight at 5 o'clock will allow for the seamless transition from old store to new.

But not without at least a tinge of sadness for Racey, who started as a courtesy clerk at the Resort Street store in 1972.

The new store andquot;will be good for business, but we're going to miss the old location,andquot; he said. andquot;There simply wasn't room there to do the things we wanted to do. It forced us to make a move.andquot;

The new facility is almost double the size of the old one, and virtually everywhere you look are services that customer surveys indicate that shoppers want in their store, Racey said.

One example is a computerized ticket service called Select-A-Seat, which will offer Albertsons shoppers access to hard-to-get tickets to concerts and other events in the Boise area.

andquot;People in Baker City will have as good a chance as people in Boise at getting front-row seats,andquot; Racey said.

The new store has many other customer-friendly amenities. A full-service florist is available. The afore-mentioned bakery will offer wedding cakes, discounted 25 percent during the month of May.

The service deli has a large meal center, which promises to cater to shoppers who wish to put a quick meal on the table.

The increased size of the store will permit a pharmacist to set up shop; the pharmacy telephone number is 524-0416.

The beefed-up meat department Albertsons calls that area andquot;the butcher blockandquot; in their new stores offers an enhanced array of meats and seafoods, Racey said.

Both a one-hour film developing service and a video rental center have been installed. The magazine area gives browsers room to read while they're making their purchasing decision.

andquot;One-stop shopping is the key,andquot; Racey said. andquot;We've seen a lot of surveys that bears that out. This is a big step in that direction.andquot;

The fuel center/carwash/convenience store in front of the new store is still under construction and slated to open in July, Racey said.

Wednesday's ribbon-cutting will feature an appearance by the Baker High School Pep Band and drawings for prizes, including 100 bags of free groceries, gift certificates and Seattle Mariners tickets.

In celebration of the grand opening, Albertsons will donate $1,000 to the Community Connections Senior Center. During construction, the senior center allowed the Pendleton firm that built the new store, McCormack Construction, to park its construction trailer on its property right against the greenhouse.

Food demonstrations and other grand opening activities will take place throughout the week.

The new store is open from 6 a.m. through midnight seven days per week.

The main telephone number is 524-0412.