Shoppers enjoy a day at Walmart in Sylvester, which opened Wednesday. (Staff photo: Laura Williams)
SYLVESTER — Worth County shoppers have a new option now that Walmart has officially opened its doors.
The national retail giant celebrated the grand opening of its Worth County location Wednesday with a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony early Wednesday, followed by a day-long celebration that featured giveaways, various activities and vendor demonstrations.
According to store manager Jennifer Calhoun, the event featured the Worth County High School marching band performing, face painting for children, and demonstrations from different vendors, such as Con Agra Foods (producer of Peter Pan peanut butter), Coca-Cola and Colgate.
“We had a us a big old carnival out here,” said store manager Jennifer Calhoun. “We had a lot of things going on and a lot of fun.”
Calhoun also said the response from the public since the store’s opening has been positive and the company is pleased to be serving the citizens of Sylvester and Worth County.
“I’ve gotten very good comments from our customers,” Calhoun said.”We’re ready to take care of all of Sylvester and Worth County.”
The approximately 75,000-square-foot store at Seabrook Drive and U.S. Highway 82 has been the source of some controversy since it was announced last October that the retailer would be building a location in Worth County.
At the time, many residents expressed concern over the store affecting local businesses, fearing it could negatively impact the smaller, local retailers.
Karen Rackley, director of the Worth County Chamber of Commerce, said she understands those concerns, but so far has been pleased by not only Walmart’s commitment to the community through its chamber membership and the creation of 150 new jobs, but also by the community’s response now that the store is open.
“You’re going to have people that are upset, there’s no way around that,” Rackley said. “It’s never easy.”
But she’s also seen some converts. “I’ve had several people who had misgivings in the beginning coming up to me and say, ‘It’s going to be okay,’” she said.
The new store will be open 6 a.m.-midnight seven days a week and features a variety of products, including apparel, electronics, toys, general merchandise, sporting goods, lawn and garden items, and groceries.