Grocery shoppers rejoiced Friday as the doors slid open at the new Walmart Supercentre in Penticton.
“To me, this is one-stop, which I love,” said Betty Moonie, who was among the first customers into the store.
“You have everything here.”
Moonie was pleased with some of the bargains she found on the new 2,800-square-metre food floor, like a fresh loaf of bread for 97 cents.
“More competition, we’ll have better buys. We do not have to go out of town,” she said.
Linda Gale had been buying most of her groceries at other stores, but is now considering switching to Walmart.
“Here, if the prices are good and you need lots of things, it’s the place to come,” said Gale. “It’s all under cover and you can go from one end of the store to the other.”
Supercentre manager Rory Williams said he’s eager to go head-to-head with Penticton’s other grocery stores.
“The idea is to put competition out there for the customers,” he said.
“Our goal as Walmart Canada is to help Canadians save money so they can live better. Economic times are tough and we want to be able to offer a one-stop shop.
“We want our customers to be able to get in fast to a nice, full store and get home to their families.”
Williams took over management of the site on Feb. 28, the day before renovations commenced. He previously helped open Supercentres in West Kelowna and Kelowna.
Construction of the new Penticton store, which boasts a full produce section, meat department and in-store bakery, generated work for 200 tradesmen, he said. It also created 60 new jobs, a mix of full- and part-time positions, bringing the store’s total number of workers to about 330.
Mayor Garry Litke, who was on hand for Friday’s festivities, said he’s pleased to have new jobs of any kind in the city.
“Obviously I prefer to see high-paying jobs that have a full range of benefits, (but) we just heard the manager say there are career opportunities here,” Litke said.
“So while people may start off with part-time jobs with no benefits, they can work themselves into middle management positions.
The mayor said he’s also hopeful the expanded Walmart will make locals think twice before spending their money elsewhere.
“We do know that the more options you provide for shoppers, the less likely they are to drive up the highway. We know that for sure,” said Litke.
During the grand opening ceremony, the store manager also distributed cheques totalling $15,000 to seven local charities, money that was raised in the past few months by employees and matched by Walmart Canada.