WESLEY CHAPEL — Residents now have another retailer vying for their grocery money with the opening of the community's first Walmart Supercenter on Wednesday.
The 207,000-square-foot center, which cut the ribbon at 8 a.m., brought 300 new full- and part-time jobs to the area. It will be managed by Stephanie White, who began her career as a Walmart cashier at the Port Richey store in 1988. A grand opening event is set from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and will include a meet and greet with managers and free food samples.
The store, at 28500 State Road 54, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will carry a broad assortment of merchandise and offer Walmart's free Site to Store program, enabling customers to choose from nearly a million additional online items on Walmart.com that can picked up at the store, according to the Arkansas-based company.
The new store offers fresh produce and a full line of groceries, including organic and natural selections. It also includes a pharmacy, deli, bakery and non-grocery items such as toys, clothes and electronics.
"A Walmart is long overdue in our community," Troy Stevenson, a member of the ambassador council of the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce said in a news release. "Even other businesses are excited about it because it will generate more revenue for us by attracting more people to our area."
The grand-opening celebration includes presentations of $7,000 in grants from Walmart to community groups. Recipients include Wesley Chapel Lions Club, Wesley Chapel High School, Watergrass Elementary School and Lily of the Valley food pantry.
It's a busy time for the retailer. Walmart representatives have a meeting scheduled Monday with Pasco County staff to revive plans for a 43,000-square-foot Neighborhood Market on the northeast corner of State Road 56 at Ancient Oaks Boulevard near Sam's Club. Walmart had announced the store in 2008 but plans were put on hold during the recession. The markets focus mainly on groceries.
The nearest Walmart supercenters are on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in New Tampa and on U.S. 301 in Zephyrhills.