For the past few weeks, workers with Lacks Valley Stores have been hard at work remodeling its Alice location and stocking it with new merchandise in preparation for its scheduled reopening in late May after its previous owner closed the store after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November last year.

“The good news that the Valley Lacks decided very quickly that they wanted to come in and be part of the community,” Store Manager Bryan Grobe said. “I think it’s a great fit.”

Lacks Valley Stores announced in March the purchase of the 35,000 square-foot store, located at 1818 E. Main St., along with its plans to remodel the store, including improvements to the parking lot and expanded bedding, electronics and appliances departments.

“We’ve spent a lot of money in this town to try and make this store nice and give the people of Alice what they need,” Supervisor of Stores Bill Mattar said.

Grobe said one distinction he wanted to make clear was that Lacks Valley Stores is not the same company as the site’s previous owner, Lacks of Victoria.

“Some people in town think that we just closed and are reopening,” Grobe said. “It’s a completely different company. The Valley corporation has never been connected with the Victoria Lacks at all.”

Mattar said the owners of the two companies had the same father, Sam Lack, but based their stores in different areas in Texas.

“The daughter’s business was in the Valley and the son’s business was based in Victoria,” Mattar said. “They had 35 stores in Victoria all over the state of Texas, but not south. The Rio Grande Valley was always the area for the Aaronson family.”

Mattar said although the two owners are related, they never operated together.

“(Lacks Valley Stores) is a great company,” Grobe said. “It’s strong and has been in business for 75 years. They have a history of providing great service and great products and we’re glad they came to town.”

Since acquiring the Alice store, Lacks Valley Stores went to work providing the location with an extensive overhaul that Grobe said has opened the store up.

“Major changes,” he said. “Basically, we gutted the whole inside of the store out. We’ve got brand new bathrooms, brand new offices and we’ve put in a brand new electronics department.”

Grobe said many of the walls around the store were knocked down, opening the store up and giving them more room to display more merchandise.

“We took a lot of walls out,” he said.

The electronics department features a marquee on its outside, making it look like the outside of a theatre, and will feature a larger selection of flat-screen televisions and other electronics.

Display Manager Heather Thompson said remodeling of the store took about three weeks. She said they are now working on stocking the store with merchandise.

“It will be a very different experience from what we carried before,” she said. “We’re getting all of the new furniture in and getting it set up.”

Mattar said the store will carry a much larger selection of bedding.

“The bedding department is huge,” he said. “It will probably be the best bedding selection between here and, I don’t know, San Antonio. I don’t think Corpus Christi has anything like this kind of bedding selection.”

Mattar said past customers of the original store will have to set up a new account at the store, but he said since all financing is done in-house it would be a simple transition.

“All our financing is done by us and all our credit is approved by us,” he said. “We don’t outside resource or anything like that. They can make their payments online and they can do credit applications online.”

Thompson said they will also be sending out mailers to the store’s past customers.

“We’ll be kicking out advertising in the next couple of weeks,” she said.

Although customers will notice extensive changes to the store itself, one area that will remain familiar from the former store is the staff as Lacks Valley Stores rehired many of the store’s former employees including all of its sales staff.

“The majority of my staff came back,” Grobe said. “All of the sales people and we even brought some people from the Annaville location. So some new faces, but the majority of us were here before.”

“There’s a lot of really good people that we didn’t want to see not working in the furniture business,” Mattar said. “We’ve really been lucky at the quality of people we’ve been able to hire here.

“The experience level of the people that had worked in this store is huge. I don’t know what the average age of the salespeople is as far as experience goes, but probably at least 20 years experience on the average which is a phenomenal number.”

The reopening of the store is set for May 25 with a “soft” opening some time before.

“We’ve got to make sure everything is right before we open the doors,” Mattar said.