http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2013/07/12/walmart-to-open-its-pleasanton-neighborhood-market-on-wednesday


Pleasanton Weekly

News - July 12, 2013

Walmart to open its Pleasanton Neighborhood Market on Wednesday

85 new employees trained, ready to greet customers at new grocery

by Jeb Bing

Walmart will open its new Neighborhood Market on Santa Rita Road in Pleasanton at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, wrapping up several years of contentious debate over whether Walmart should be allowed to expand here.

The 33,000-square-foot supermarket is located in the Meadow Plaza shopping center south of West Las Positas Boulevard in the store once occupied by Nob Hill, which was closed three years ago. Merchants in Meadow Plaza, which adjoins the Santa Rita Square Center, have been waiting anxiously for a new large anchor grocer to move in to help revitalize their businesses.

Alton Wheeler, manager. of the Walmart Neighborhood Center, said those retailers will be among city, civic and business leaders invited to his opening day party.

"We'll have a lot of festivities and special offers," he said.

A walk-through of the new market showed the shelves neatly stacked with a variety of merchandise typically found in a major supermarket. Facing the store, the general merchandising section is on the right, featuring health and beauty products, paper towels and much more. Fresh produce and packaged goods are on the left with food in cooling units and frozen goods in the center. Meat, fish and bakery goods are along the back aisle of the store.

Walmart has revamped the Nob Hill store with wider aisles, new entry and exit doors, high white-painted ceilings with brilliant lighting and a pharmacy. Check-out stands line the front of the store with some set up for self-checkout and computer stations that keep track of inventory as well as customer suggestions.

"We want to listen to our customers and have them tell us what they're looking for and what they need," Wheeler said. "Every Walmart market has the ability to tailor its merchandise and service to meet what customers want."

That includes a coffee bar, which Wheeler's store doesn't have. If enough shoppers and commuters stopping at the store on their way to work want coffee and a donut, Wheeler said he'll put the service in.

Wheeler has hired 85 employees (called associates at Walmart) and they're all now at work in the store, completing training programs, stacking shelves and price-coding incoming jars of baby food and canned foods and other products in a maze of boxes vendors have been delivering.

Overhead, construction crews have finished installing and adjusting new ceiling lights and crossbars for holding information signs.

The Walmart store opening was delayed for more than a year by protests before the Pleasanton Planning Commission and City Council over allowing Walmart to add one of its Neighborhood Markets here. Former Councilman Matt Sullivan and union representatives opposed Walmart's bid, claiming that Walmart pays its employees "below scale" wages and benefits and that, as a non-union grocer, it could undercut other grocery stores in the way it prices merchandise.

But because Walmart was taking over an old supermarket that already had the city's approval, it was given an operating permit based on that prior approval and property use.

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