New St. Mary's Wal-Mart Supercenter Officially Opens

CALIFORNIA, Md. (November 1, 2007) – After months of construction, the new Wal-Mart Supercenter in St. Mary's County officially opened its doors on Wednesday, Oct. 24. The new store was actually an upgrade to the existing smaller Wal-Mart which served the county for 14 years. The store never closed during the upgrade process, leaving many regular customers searching for the latest location of their desired products as construction progressed.

The store is located at 45485 Miramar Way in California, Md.

The store, originally opened in 1993, has gained approximately 92,169 square feet. It will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and customers can pay for their purchases at one of 28 full-service and eight express checkout lanes.

According to Wal-Mart corporate, the store’s expansion has led to the creation of 300 planned new jobs, which will bring total employment at the store to 550. According to company officials, the national average wage at Wal-Mart for full-time associates is $10.65 per hour. The on-line Wal-Mart jobs database currently shows no openings for this location.

The new Supercenter now includes a full line of groceries. According to Store Manager John Canady, customers will now be able to select from a full line of groceries, bakery goods, deli foods, frozen foods, meat and dairy products, fresh produce and organic products.

The new offering of groceries is expected to take some market share from existing grocery stores such as the large corporate-owned Food Lion, Giant, and Shopper's Food Warehouse and the local family-owned McKays stores. Wal-Mart also competes locally against K-Mart and Target, which are all closely co-located.

Not everyone in the community plans to make the new Wal-Mart their store of choice. Many feel that the store is too big and too busy.

Some local citizens have weighed in on the new store in the Community Forums. A reader that goes by the name of FireBrand wrote, "[I] drove through the parking lot yesterday and then decided that K-Mart and Target would be the better choice!" Another read that posts under the name Jeff agreed, writing, "I did the same. Needed dog shampoo and cigars. Did a drive through at Wal-Mart and went straight to K-Mart."

But, others feel that the low prices offered by Wal-Mart are worth the hassle of dealing with a big parking lot and long lines. "I spent like an hour and a half in there yesterday, but the prices are great," noted Forum reader BS Gal. "I'll go again, just not on a Saturday."

While Mal-Mart has a reputation for devastating downtown business communities when they build a new store, many see Wal-Mart here as a necessary addition. The area was long under-served by retail establishments due to its rural nature and lack of through traffic. The deficiency began to fade after NAVAIR relocated its headquarters to the Patuxent River NAS, bringing thousands of new high paying jobs to the area.

In addition to the standard Wal-Mart offerings, the new Supercenter also leases areas of the store to other retail businesses. These currently include a SmartStyle Family Hair Salon, Regal nail salon, a portrait studio, a Subway restaurant and a branch of Woodforest Bank.

“We are excited about opening as a Supercenter, and we think our customers are going to really enjoy being able to get all of their shopping done in one store,” said Canady in a prepared statement.

In celebration of the California store’s expansion, Wal-Mart distributed grants totaling $16,000 to 11 local, non-profit organizations on grand opening day.

Every Wal-Mart store provides grants to community groups at its grand opening and throughout the year, according to Wal-Mart officials.

Groups who received funding are:

° College of Southern Maryland

° Great Mills High School Junior ROTC

° Green Holly Elementary School

° Institute for Human Growth and Development

° Leah’s House

° Leonardtown High School

° Lions of District 22

° Optimist International

° Special Olympics Maryland

° St. Mary’s County Public Library

° Three Oaks Homeless Shelter

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