By Ann Patton
Academy Spirit staff
The Academy Exchange is having a party, and everyone’s invited.
The grand opening celebration July 1 will cap the store’s renovation, which begun nearly a year ago.
“It’s going to be kind of like a festival,” said Kim Lopez, Army & Air Force Exchange store manager. “Our customers deserve a party.”
During the grand opening, the road in front of the store will be blocked to allow for food and gift vendors, entertainment, demonstrations, a book signing, the appearance of an AAFES “monster truck,” among other offerings. The BX will also feature special promotions and enter-to-win contests.
Academy senior leadership and Lionel Rivera, mayor of Colorado Springs, are scheduled to be on hand for the celebration.
“We want to kick it off in style,” Ms. Lopez said.
The grand opening was originally scheduled for November last year, in time for the holiday season. Due to unexpected delays completion was postponed.
As the renovation progressed, major structural problems emerged, such electrical issues and the presence of asbestos.
“It took a lot longer in some unexpected areas,” she said. “Now it’s safe and up to code and like a new building in an old shell.”
Ms. Lopez called the renovation a “100 percent gut job.”
The facility’s restrooms were also fully gutted, spanning from sewer lines to ceilings. They now are retiled with new fixtures and fully meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Customers will enjoy the new look overall and the “shopability” of the completed renovation Ms. Lopez added.
“It’s much lighter and brighter,” Ms. Lopez said and pointed out the facility is also more energy efficient.
New interior entrances have contributed to the new look, including the addition of three passages into areas housing toys and hardware (an area formerly occupied by sporting goods). An additional entrance has been added from the main store directly into the outside patio area.
New lighting, expanded aisle space and raised ceilings have also added to the more open feel of the store. Overhead signage indicates department locations throughout the facility.
Books and magazines have moved to their new location near the main entrance of the store, and the electronics area has been significantly expanded. The ladies’ wear department now occupies about 5,000 square feet of the estimated 30,000 square foot facility.
Renovation has also created space for an anticipated move of Academy Bank in the future.
Not immediately visible to customers will be some shifts in merchandising, with reductions and increases in inventory based on sales records of certain items. One example is hair color and another baby items.
Ms. Lopez stressed, however, the store will continue to carry a “nice mixture of the basics” for infants.
She is grateful to the store’s patrons who have been loyal during the renovation.
“Many customers have made our day and have been our cheerleaders. I thank all of them who’ve hung in here with us,” she said. “We couldn’t have better customers.”