Clark County’s newest Wal-Mart, a 24-hour Supercenter at 14505 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd. in Orchards, opened Wednesday with the national anthem, speeches by company and public officials, and a crowd of eager shoppers waiting for their time to spend.
The store, almost a decade in the making, opened its doors at 8 a.m. to several hundred shoppers, said store manager Crystal Penney, a 13-year Wal-Mart employee who is taking on her first store manager position. Both the store and the area’s first Wal-Mart-branded service station opened at 8 a.m. and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The store overall has about 200 full-and part-time employees, the company said.
Vendors offered free samples throughout opening day, and festivities will extend to this weekend and beyond. On Saturday, the store will host a “Big Family Welcome,” from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., where shoppers can meet Penney and enjoy family activities and free food samples while supplies last. Three Seattle Seahawks cheerleaders will be at the store from 1 to 3 p.m. The following Saturday, Oct. 3, the fuel station will have its own grand opening event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with giveaways and food samples.
The 158,000-square-foot features the usual wide array of Wal-Mart offerings including a full-service pharmacy with wellness services and a vision center.
The opening ceremony featured the Buffalo Soldiers presenting the colors, followed by the national anthem. Vancouver City Councilor Larry Smith spoke, along with company officials, and local resident Carl Lingenfelter was recognized as the store’s honorary first customer.
Wal-Mart announced $6,500 in grants from the company and from the Walmart Foundation to local community groups, including 40 ET 8, Boys and Girls Club, Children’s Center, Clark County Food Bank, Kings Church, Vancouver Lions Club,and USO.
“Our customers are very excited,” Penney said Wednesday morning. “A lot of people stopped me after the ceremony to tell me how happy they are that we’re here.”
The store is the first development in the Birtcher Business Center, which is generally south of the store site. The long-planned development was stalled by the economic downturn but now is moving forward, said Mark Childs, a broker with the Portland-based real estate firm Capacity Commercial, which is leasing properties in the business center.
Excluding the Wal-Mart site, the business park is about 135 acres and about half of that land will be set aside for natural resource and wetland protection, Childs said. Two small properties along Fourth Plain Boulevard have been leased, he said, one to an industrial user and one to a speculative developer of a flex-space business center. A deal for more than 50 acres of the site is now in escrow with an industrial company, he said.
Wal-Mart’s presence could benefit some smaller tenants, but the traffic generated by the store “might be a challenge” for some pure industrial users, he said. But, he added, “the area was master-planned with adequate infrastructure, so there’s enough for everyone at the party.”