A large crowd of eager shoppers gathered early Wednesday morning to celebrate the opening of San Ramon's first Walmart Neighborhood Market, which filled a vacant storefront at 9100 Alcosta Boulevard.
Walmart's new Pleasanton Neighborhood Market will open at the site of the long-closed Nob Hill Supermarket in Pleasanton in mid-2013, Walmart said
Yesterday, the retail giant also simultaneously opened five other Neighborhood Market stores in the Central Valley, three of them in the Sacramento area.
All six stores opened yesterday had grand-opening festivities and a Walmart representative said job applications are still being taken for associate positions at its new markets.
In San Ramon, the ribbon-cutting ceremony started with store associates and local dignitaries participating in a brief ceremony, after which doors to the new store were opened to the public.
Walmart first opened its Neighborhood Markets in 1998 and now operates approximately 200 stores across the country.
The 50,000-square-foot San Ramon store will be open 24 hours day, 365 days a year and will feature self service deli and bakery, a full line of groceries, pharmacy and household items. The store will also offer a large number of Hispanic items.
Dan Wall has lived in San Ramon since 1979 and said he'd seen the neighborhood change many times. While perusing the sauce aisle, he added that he left home early Wednesday morning to make sure people weren't protesting.
"I think it's the right thing, it serves the community and I'm glad to see another store. I just didn't want to see this be a big, overwhelming Walmart," he said. "I think it's a particle use for the neighborhood."
Dublin resident Shirley Smith came to the opening after dropping her children off at school. Though she usually does large shopping at the Travis Air Force Base commissary, Smith said the Neighborhood Market would be her new go-to store.
"I like it. It's not huge, but it has everything you need," she said.
In addition to providing residents with another local grocery store, Walmart Foundation officials have $21,000 thousand dollars in grants to community organizations such as the Sentinels of Freedom, San Ramon Valley Education Foundation, and the police and fire departments.
"Whenever we open a store, we find out what charitable organizations are in the community and we invite them to apply (for a grant)," said Deborah Herron, Walmart public affairs. "We are pleased to be behind our schools and our children and our families in this way."
The Walmart Foundation has a history of supporting veterans and senior organizations as well as city services, she added.
Grants ranged from $2,000 to $5,000 and will fund technology improvements at California High School, youth traffic and bicycle safety programs through the Police Department, among others.
San Ramon Senior Center's Jackie Esse said her $5,000 grant will be put toward new dishes and silverware, which are currently mismatched donations.
"We have a lunch program Tuesday through Friday that that is now increasing," Esse said, adding that funding will also support Meals on Wheels. "It would be very nice to eat off something attractive."
At the conclusion of the ribbon cutting ceremony -- which included Cal High cheerleaders performing the Walmart cheer -- shoppers were invited inside for free samples and discounted prices. Store Manager Baltazar Garcia said the opening went well and that the store will have special promotions and product samples throughout the week.
The Neighborhood Market created 85 jobs in the city and no one protested the 7:30 a.m. opening.