Wal-Mart Supercenters Closing In on L.A. City Limits

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart is at the gate of Los Angeles, with its newest Wal-Mart supercenter just opened Friday in Santa Clarita, Calif., bringing the banner closer than ever the Los Angeles city limits.

The 216,168-square-foot supercenter is Wal-Mart's second in Los Angeles County. Its grand opening will take place tomorrow, Jan. 31, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony complete with local dignitaries; product samples, character appearances, giveaways, and a hot-air balloon.

Three days before the opening, Wal-Mart made a surprise donation of $30,000 in school supplies and grants to five local elementary schools. "These are five schools within a short radius of this store," noted store manager Daniel Goff, who began his Wal-Mart career 13 years ago as a candy stocker at a store in Marble Falls, Tex., in a statement. "We wanted to share our community's wishes and continue Wal-Mart's commitment to education here in Santa Clarita, specifically." The store will also contribute an additional $24,000 in grants to other local organizations to mark its opening.

The store offers the full supercenter treatment, the company said, including a bakery, a delicatessen, a frozen food section, and meat, dairy, and fresh produce departments, in addition to 36 general merchandise departments, among them apparel and accessories, fine jewelry, a lawn and garden center, HBC, and a full line of electronics. Other features include Tire & Lube Express, a McDonald's restaurant, a portrait studio, a one-hour photo lab, a vision center, a pharmacy, a Hair Works hair salon, a Regal nail salon, and a Wal-Mart Connect Center for wireless phone sales.

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the supercenter includes 24 full-service, two express, and eight self-checkout lanes. The store employs about 550 associates, 11 of whom have worked at Wal-Mart for more than 10 years, according to Goff, who noted that the employees were chosen from 3,400 job applicants.

Job applicants is apparently becoming a handy stat for Wal-Mart's campaign to show locals welcome the store in some markets where opposition has been loud. For example, 325 people reportedly were hired from a pool of 25,000 applicants -- believed by the company to be the largest number of job seekers at one facility in its history -- for a Wal-Mart that opened Friday in Evergreen Park, a suburb of Chicago. Employees were required to undergo four interviews and a drug test.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881 dismissed that reported number as inflated, and an attempt to coerce the Chicago City Council into letting Wal-Mart operate within city limits at more sites. The retailer countered that its numbers were accurate and represented people's high level of interest in working there.

In other Wal-Mart news, the retailer estimated Saturday that U.S. same-store sales for the month of January rose 4.7 percent, and that demand for groceries outpaced that for general merchandise. Wal-Mart and most other major chain stores will release final January sales figures on Thursday.
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds