A new ship has pulled into town and dropped its anchor in west Provo.

At least that's the way city and company officials view the opening of Smith's Food and Drug Superstore at 350 N. Freedom Blvd. The store opened its doors at 8 a.m. Wednesday and by 8:20 more than 400 customers had come through the doors."We think between Smith's and Sears (the store's neighbor), the two can become an anchor in the downtown area," said Ron Madsen, the city's Redevelopment Agency director. "There are not many stores like this. We think it shows a real commitment to Provo and the downtown area."

Smith's Store Director Mark Burningham agreed. "We'll definitely be the anchor. I think we will really bring a lot of people in and help out the community."

Provo Mayor Joe Jenkins and Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce President Steve Densley welcomed Smith's back to the valley at the store's grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.

Smith's officials were presented the First Buck Award by the Chamber of Commerce. The Provo Municipal Band was also there to welcome new customers.

"Provo is really the market capital of Utah Valley," Jenkins said. "We have three of the newest up-to-date markets in the area and think this is the crown jewel to pull all the stores together."

Smith's was previously located in Orem next to Fred Meyer off State Street and in Provo on Ninth East but those stores were closed because the "older facilities were small and just did not fit the future plans of Smith's," said Oleen Watt, Smith's personnel director for the Mountain West region.

The employees of those stores were the first to be hired back at the superstore in west Provo at the same seniority level. The superstore employs 205 people.

The 60,000-square-foot facility, open 24 hours, also features a state-of-the-art entry system that allows the doors to remain open without changing the store temperature and without allowing animals and insects to enter the store.

The air curtain is energy efficient and has been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Watt said the air curtain can withstand 40 mph winds and a difference in 60 degrees from the outside to the inside of the store.