“Walmart: Officials and Residents Weigh in at Market Opening” for Altadena Patch

Shoppers told Patch they were happy about the low prices and some local leaders welcomed the market with open arms. What do you think of their views?

March 1, 2013

See Walmart: Officials and Residents Weigh in at Market Opening on Altadena Patch here.

The event that many in the Altadena community anticipated or dreaded happened Friday, as Walmart Neighborhood Market opened to an eager crowd at 8 a.m. on Lincoln Avenue and Figueroa Drive.

The market carries mainly groceries and also has a pharmacy and provides a ship-to-store ordering option.

See photos of the store and officials speaking at the opening here.

The ribbon cutting was preceded by speeches from Altadena officials and Walmart managers and a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by three of the store’s employees on a small stage in the parking lot.

See video of the ribbon cutting here.

Despite any pushback from Altadena residents or businesses, Altadena Walmart Neighborhood Market store manager Jennifer Gonzales was confident in the store’s success, especially since many Walmart stores are in strip malls.

“We’re in the heart of the community and that’s what’s going to make us the number one store in Southern California,” Gonzales told the crowd.

Shoppers’ Reactions

After the ribbon was cut, customers poured into the store.

Bruce Wallace told Patch that he and his wife, Marian, have lived in Altadena 40 years and were “really excited” for the new Walmart market, which is walking distance from their house.

The Wallaces usually drive to the Rosemead Walmart or the Ralphs on Lake Avenue to get groceries and CVS or Walgreens for prescriptions.

“It’s a true blessing,” said Wallace. “I can do one-stop shopping.”

Cristal Sotelo and her mother live in Downtown Los Angeles but told Patch they came to the Altadena Walmart Neighborhood Market opening Friday to see what the store looked like since one is slated to open Downtown.

“It’s really nice that it can match anyone’s price,” said Sotelo, who usually shops at stores like Food for Less for groceries.

Officials’ Reactions

Altadena Town Council Chair Bernardean Broadous told the crowd that she asked the new Walmart Neighborhood Market to be a neighborhood partner and she expects them to be.

Broadous added that an Alpha-Beta market used to occupy the space where the Walmart market now stands so “it’s not anything brand new.”

“Times are tough,” said another Walmart manager. I don’t think anyone would deny that. “We are so proud to offer another choice for the people of Altadena.”

While some local residents and businesses, along with organizations like Neighbors Building a Better Altadena and Save Altadena, have vocally opposed a Walmart store in the community, there appeared to be no protest at the store Friday morning.

“We are hopeful that nearby businesses will benefit from any increased foot traffic,” said Altadena Chamber of Commerce President Ed Meyers. He added that about half of the employees at the Altadena store are Altadena residents.

Metropolitan Baptist Church Pastor Tyrone Skinner was asked by Walmart to dedicate and bless the store and prayed to God for “good success” and “that everything would be to [His] glory and honor.”

Walmart also presented grants to the following local schools and organizations in a display of large checks on the stage:

John Muir High School- $1,000
Andrew Jackson Elementary School – $1,500
Mentoring and Partnership for Youth Development (MPYD) – $1,000
Altadena Senior Center- $1,000
Neighbors Acting Together Helping All (NATHA) – $1,000
Metropolitan Baptist Church – $1,000

Opening festivities like giveaways and appearances from characters like the Bimbo Bear will continue throughout the weekend.

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