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Photos: New Swanson's store opens in Bethel

Clams, stuffed chicken breasts, king crab legs and crab stuffed salmon are for sale in the meat section of the new Swanson's store in Bethel, Alaska, on Monday, June 30, 2014. The brand new store, which opened Monday, was built by the Bethel Native Corp. and leased to Omni Enterprises Inc. the parent company of Swanson's. The store is part of Kipusvik complex, which which also has a two-screen movie theater.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Emily Vanasse stocks gold beets in the produce section of the new Swanson's store in Bethel, Alaska, on Monday, June 30, 2014. The brand-new store, which opened Monday, was built by the Bethel Native Corp. and leased to Omni Enterprises Inc., the parent company of Swanson's. The store is part of Kipusvik complex, which which also has a two-screen movie theater.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Chef Ruvan Cervenes bastes pork ribs he is cooking on a charcoal grill in the new Swanson's store in Bethel, Alaska, on Monday, June 30, 2014. The brand-new store, which opened Monday, was built by the Bethel Native Corp. and leased to Omni Enterprises Inc., the parent company of Swanson's. The store is part of Kipusvik complex, which which also has a two-screen movie theater.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Shoppers are greeted by a deli featuring a charcoal grill, Asian fare and other deli foods as they enter the new Swanson's store in Bethel, Alaska, on Monday, June 30, 2014. The brand-new store, which opened Monday, was built by the Bethel Native Corp. and leased to Omni Enterprises Inc., the parent company of Swanson's. The store is part of Kipusvik complex, which which also has a two-screen movie theater.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Bob Hallinen

Opening week, some shoppers strolled Swanson’s just looking. Others stocked up. Employees seemed to be beside themselves.

“My mouth was wide open,” said night manager Barbara Haroldsen, wearing a green kuspuk and taking in the scene not long after getting to work on opening day. “I was stunned and joyful at the same time.” Haroldsen said she never expected Swanson’s would change so completely.

“I’m just awestruck because it’s so beautiful and the variety is so great,” said Arvin Dull, 57, who was born and raised in Bethel but travels a lot. Swanson’s rivals any store, said Dull, a former bank manager who now manages property. He stopped by to pick up a quick to-go lunch and look around.

Nellie Alexie, 35, and Cheryl Andrew, 25, flew in from Kongiganak, mainly to stock up.

“It feels like Fred Meyer or Walmart,” said Andrew, who was hauling home five dozen eggs, a jumbo box of snacks, and a shipping box packed full. She saw the store under construction but said she still was surprised at how nice it turned out. Alexie said she liked the organization: “Things are easier to find.”

The new Swanson’s is part of a new $20 million complex called Kipusvik, Yup’ik for “place to buy things.” Inside there’s also a movie theater -- Bethel’s first since the early 1980s -- called Suurvik Cinema. Suurvik is Yup’ik for “show hall.”

Read more: An ambitious Bethel retail makeover changes what it means to shop in rural Alaska