Airport Thruway Wal-Mart opens Wednesday morning

Wal-Mart will open the first of two new supercenters in Columbus Wednesday morning at 2801 Airport Thruway.

The 148,848-square-foot store, which closed for a year while the old non-supercenter was torn down and rebuilt, will hold a 7 a.m. grand opening ceremony. Product samples and giveaways are part of the promotion.

Wal-Mart plans to donate $18,000 to charities as part of the opening, giving to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus, Columbus State University, Second Harvest Food Bank, Britt David Elementary School, Carver High School Band and Habitat for Humanity.

"Our associates have worked hard to get the store ready for the opening and are anxious for the day to arrive when we can welcome our first customers," store manager Harrison Banks said in a statement issued by the world's largest retailer.

The 24-hour store employs about 400, with the company saying full-time hourly workers in Georgia earn $10.95 per hour on average.

The new Wal-Mart will have a full-line grocery, unlike the old format. It also has a pharmacy and a Wal-Mart MoneyCenter, which is geared toward consumers without traditional bank accounts and credit cards.

Lease tenants include SmartStyle Family Hair Salon, Regal Nail Salon and a Subway eatery.

A 203,819-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter at 6475 Gateway Rd. is scheduled to hold its grand opening March 12.

With the new Wal-Marts, Columbus and Phenix City will have four supercenters and a smaller discount store, employing nearly 2,000 people altogether.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. employs about 55,000 throughout Georgia at 123 supercenters, 10 discount stores, 22 Sam's Clubs and five distribution centers.