The third of four Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets entering the local metro area opened its doors with a quick ribbon-cutting Wednesday in Phenix City.
The full-line grocery store and pharmacy at 3864 U.S. Highway 80, which includes a gas station out front, made its debut at 7:30 a.m. and will serve the Ladonia area of Phenix City 24 hours a day.
The 41,000-square-foot market employs about 95 people full- and part-time, with Frankie Holmes the store manager. He has been with the company since 2002, starting as an assistant manager in Newnan, Ga.
Like the two markets that opened last week on Manchester Expressway and Blackmon Road in Columbus, the Phenix City location plans a “Big Family Welcome” event for shoppers. It takes place noon-3 p.m. Saturday, with a few activities and free food samples while they last.
Wednesday’s opening included the donation of $8,000 in grant money from the Walmart Foundation to various community groups and organizations, the company said. Those included the Phenix City Police and Fire departments, the Russell County Sheriff’s Department, Central High School, Ladonia Elementary School, Russell County Child Advocacy Center and the Phenix City Shriners Club.
Construction now is under way on a fourth Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market on Buena Vista Road in Columbus, as well as a supercenter off Victory Drive.
The metro area already has supercenters on Whittlesey Boulevard, Gateway Road and Airport Thruway in Columbus, as well as a non-supercenter discount store on Buena Vista Road. The retailer also operates a supercenter on U.S. Highway 280/431 in Phenix City and a Sam’s Club on Whittlesey Boulevard in Columbus.
The five new Wal-Mart stores are notable considering the Arkansas-based company announced last week plans to close 269 stores, most of them in the U.S. and many of them its smaller express format. Most are being shuttered by Jan. 28.
None are in the local area. The closings include eight express stores in Alabama and seven in Georgia, one supercenter in Alabama, and nearly two dozen neighborhood markets, most in the western U.S.