Stanislaus County’s largest Walmart store celebrated its grand opening at 7:30 a.m. with a ceremony that included local politicians, veterans and store officials at the new supercenter at Sperry and Ward avenues.
The fanfare included a flag ceremony hosted by American Legion Post 168, the rendition of Miss Liberty by the Patterson High School band and the Star Spangled Banner sung by Human Resources Manager Christy Menchaca of Patterson’s Walmart store.
Customers became more excited as the party moved inside.
“It’s a lot bigger than I thought,” Patterson resident Andrew Teruel said of the 157,805-square-foot store as he perused the electronics department. “I’m amazed by its size.
Rudy Aguilar of Patterson was busy shopping in the store’s automotive section.
“(Walmart) gets a big thumbs up from me,” he said. “It’s going to bring needed tax revenue and jobs for local people, and (the store) is humungous.”
Shoppers packed the store, filling their carts and checking out countless aisles of merchandise. A long line of shoppers cued up in the aisle where ammunition was stocked, though shoppers there were reticent to speak with the Irrigator.
Don Colwell and his wife Mira Colwell of Patterson were looking at bicycles in the sporting goods section. They said they loved the convenience of the location.
“This is tremendous,” Don Colwell. “We don’t have to go out of town for a lot of things.”
Mira agreed, saying she and her husband had been anticipating the opening for some time.
“We moved here three and a half years ago and we’ve been waiting for it since,” she said.
Mayor Luis Molina said during Wednesday’s ceremony there would be a lot less road miles for Patterson residents as a result of the store’s opening.
“This brings options to our community, tax dollars to stay, and keeps people off the roads and here in town,” he said.
He acknowledging past and present council members and city staff for their efforts in bringing Walmart to Patterson.
The opening marks the culmination of nearly four years of planning and more than a year of construction.
The store will showcase a better selection and assortment of products at lower prices, store manager Troy McMahan said.
McMahan then passed out checks to local nonprofit organizations.
A foundation established by the retailer donated $8,000 in grants during the grand opening ceremony. Homeless advocacy group Helping Others Sleep Tonight and scholarship foundation Patterson Recognizing Individuals Determined to Excel received $1,000 checks. The Patterson Apricot Fiesta, Patterson Volunteer Fire Department, Patterson Youth Soccer Association and Westside Food Pantry received $1,500 each.
The store sells groceries and products in more than 30 merchandise departments. It also features a pharmacy, a digital-photo processing center, a vision center, a SmartStyle hair salon and a Subway restaurant.
It employs 320 people, and company officials say more than 90 percent of them live in Patterson.
• Contact Nick Rappley at 892-6187, ext. 31 or firstname.lastname@example.org.