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Wal-Mart unveils new grocery section

October 29, 1998

Wal-Mart Grand OpeningBy DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Charles Waleski went to the new Wal-Mart Supercenter along Foxcroft Avenue Wednesday morning, but soon retreated to his truck.

He said searching through the expansive store wore him out, and he was going to return with some of his relatives to let them "pick and climb in the aisles."

"It's full. It ain't no two ways about it," Waleski said as customers bustled in and out of the store.

During a morning ceremony, Wal-Mart opened the supermarket section of the store, which makes it the largest in the Eastern Panhandle and Hagerstown area.

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The new discount store and supermarket combination measures 209,000 square feet, outsizing the 139,000-square-foot store in Charles Town, W.Va., and the 120,000-square-foot store on Wesel Boulevard in Hagerstown.

Not only is it the biggest in the area, but it marks the largest single expansion of a Wal-Mart store, said manager Jim Waters.

Wal-Mart considered moving its store to another location near its current site at the Martinsburg Mall, but Wal-Mart officials and Crown American worked out a deal to expand the existing store. Wal-Mart expanded its discount store, and added a grocery store, but never closed.

"They have stuck with us through a difficult project," Waters said, referring to his customers.

To honor the community for its patronage, the store handed out $7,500 in donations to Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the United Way, Boy Scouts and other organizations.

Vendors representing different suppliers gave away free products, and inside there were free samples of food and drinks.

Shoppers dropped tickets into an aquarium in the seafood section for a chance to win "Bubba," considered to be the biggest lobster in the tank.

Mason Waleski considered himself an expert on such events. Snacking on a salad sample, he said it's best to get all the free products on the first day, then come back another day for serious shopping.

"Get the hype out of the way, then you can get to the real food," said Waleski.

Waters said he believes his store beats the prices of most of its competitors. If customers find a cheaper price on a product, Wal-Mart will match it.

Wal-Mart shoppers don't have to worry about leafing through papers to get ads from competitors. Newspaper ads from competitors are pasted on the front window of the store.

The store is between Martin's Food Market and Roger's County Market.

Jim Barnhart of Roger's County Market said he wasn't too worried about the competition. He said his store will continue offering the kind of service its customers like.

Store owner Roger Barnhart offers free bus transportation to his store for senior citizens, and people like the meat he sells, he said.

"Roger's a local boy and he tries to help the people he grew up around," said Jim Barnhart.

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