The new Menards on East State Street opened to the public for the first time Monday following a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The 2009 East State St. location began construction last year, according to a previous Post report, and will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. 

Menards sells home improvement and building supplies including cabinets, flooring, lighting, paint and lumber according to a press release from the company. Additionally, the store sells gardening and lawn and gardening items, such as lawnmowers and every day essentials like beauty products, housewares and groceries. 

Similar in most stores across the county, and in compliance with city policy, customers and employees are required to wear masks, Darren Miller, the store’s general manager, said. The store is also taking additional precautions to keep employees and customers safe.

“We have a schedule for doing enhanced cleaning where we'll clean up the touch points … on the carts, there's wipes for the guests to use, and when not, we'll use them on a regular basis and clean the carts and sanitize,” Miller said. “We have the sticker decals you see everywhere to keep our guests six feet apart … [We’re] just trying to stay clean, and stay safe and keep our team members and our guests that way as well.”

Miller said that even despite the pandemic, the process of opening the new store went very well. 

“I had a lot of coaching and a lot of people who've been through (a store opening) before and it was very, very smooth for a new store, from what I'm told,” Miller said. “Even with the extra things we did for COVID, it went very well.”

Miller said extra precautions were taken for employees while initially stocking the shelves for the opening by having less people in each aisle at a time.

Many residents thought the store had opened days before it was scheduled to, due to the many employees involved in the roll-out.

“It's a ton of people from our corporate office, contractors that are hired, it's the team members that come in, and we bring in extra help from other stores to help train. I mean, everybody thought the store was open because of the number of cars in the parking lot,” Miller said. “That's just how many people put it together.”

Employees at the store include college students, retirees looking for part-time work and people searching for a career at Menards, Miller said.

Jeff Abbott, a spokesperson for Menards, said in a press release that the company looks forward to adding to the economic growth of Athens and is excited about creating more jobs in the region.