By Justine Griffin
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.
article via Sarasota Herald Tribune
SARASOTA – The city’s first Walmart Neighborhood Market, a store that will employ 90, is scheduled to open Wednesday.
The 34,000-square-foot store, at 3500 N. Tamiami Trail, is the third new chain grocery to debut in Sarasota County in roughly the past month, following the openings of Costco Wholesale Club and Trader Joe’s.
Unlike traditional Walmart stores, the neighborhood market format is smaller and offers food, pharmacy and beauty departments similar to other supermarket chains, like Winn-Dixie and Sweetbay.
“Walmart will be a game changer for North Sarasota and beyond, by bringing a quality and much-needed product to a great community,” Sarasota Mayor Suzanne Atwell said, in a statement.
Walmart’s grocery store replaces a 40,000-square-foot Winn-Dixie supermarket the Jacksonville-based retailer shuttered in 2010.
It was one of more than two-dozen groceries Winn-Dixie closed in a cost-cutting measure aimed at boosting profitability.
Since then, Winn-Dixie has focused on renovating stores — including its outlet at Fruitville Road and Honore Avenue, in a Benderson Development shopping center.
Although the grocery store marks the first Walmart in the city, it may not be the only store the Bentonville, Ark-based conglomerate operates here soon.
A 97,000-square-foot Walmart Supercenter is being planned for the Ringling Shopping Center, at 2260 Ringling Blvd., which Publix Super Markets vacated earlier this year.
The new Walmart neighborhood grocery, meanwhile, will employ about 90 full- and part-time workers, the company said.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 7:30 a.m. on opening day before the store welcomes its first shoppers. Giveaways, product sampling and other entertainment are planned throughout the day.
Walmart began opening neighborhood market stores in 1998 and now has around 200 stores nationwide.
The Sarasota location will be open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.
Walmart’s $246 billion in sales this year earned them the No. 1 spot on a list of top 75 grocery wholesalers and retailers, as ranked by New York-based Supermarket News, a trade publication.