Wal-Mart becomes a one-stop shop

Expansion: The addition of a 15-aisle grocery section turns the store's Philadelphia Boulevard location into a Supercenter.

April 10, 2005|By Christina Hernandez | Christina Hernandez,SUN STAFF

Aberdeen residents now have a one-stop, 24-hour shopping destination: Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The Supercenter's official opening last week added a 109,812-square-foot, 15-aisle grocery store to the existing Philadelphia Boulevard store.

"The food business is where company growth is," said store manager Shane Puller.

More than 100 employees, community members and local dignitaries gathered in the 7 a.m. chill Wednesday to celebrate the opening of the Supercenter, which took 13 months to construct.

Aberdeen Mayor Doug Wilson said that when Wal-Mart first came to Aberdeen in 1993, some feared the megastore would force other local businesses to close. However, he said, Aberdeen maintains a 97 percent business-rental occupancy rate.

"I know a lot of people near and far have been looking forward to this," he said. "It's been a long time coming."

Cindy Scott, a resident of Aberdeen, said she thought the competition that the giant retailer brought to the community had a positive impact.

"The other stores have been here a long time," she said. "I think they may take the customers for granted."

As part of Wal-Mart's Good.Works. program, the store presented $17,000 in grants to local organizations, including the Aberdeen middle and high schools, the Aberdeen fire and police departments and the Boys & Girls Club of Harford County.

After the ceremonial remarks, Wilson cut the yellow ribbon at the store's entrance with a pair of oversized gold-colored scissors, and customers hurried in, eager for bargains. In the bakery, doughnuts, bagels and cakes, some made in-house, were prominently displayed. Salads and meats were available in the delicatessen. The store also includes a frozen-foods section, a seafood counter, produce and a dairy section.

Samantha Jinkins, an Aberdeen resident and one of 250 new Wal-Mart employees, attended the ceremony despite being off from work.

"I'm not missing this," she said of the opening of the store she had helped set up for two months. "I think it's going to help a lot of people."

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