Derby, Vt. - It's been a long time coming, but it's here, the grand opening of Vermont's newest Walmart. It's another options for shoppers in the Northeast Kingdom, plus another resource for the local economy.
"Good morning. Welcome to our Derby Walmart. Good morning," chanted greeters as shoppers turned out in droves to check out everything the newest Walmart has to offer.
It's been a nearly 10 year battle, but the doors are finally open at Vermont's latest retailer. "It's beautiful, it's big, everybody's friendly. There's a lot of help, a lot of people showing you where things are. Everybody's happy today," said Julie McKay, a Northeast Kingdom resident and first day shopper. She admits she didn't believe this would happen. "Like my neighbor Shirley, for a lot of people it was hard to get to a Walmart. You've got to drive an hour or find a ride. A lot of people are low income around here, so I'm really excited it finally made it here," she said.
"Folks really need this store in this area because they have to travel a long ways to buy their basics," explained Store Manager Tony Lane. He's been with the company for 23 years, most of those coming in Maine. He's happy to be in Vermont, this is his first store opening, and at 156 thousand square feet, his Super Center is now the biggest in the state. It features, grocery, retail, an auto center, and full pharmacy.
Most importantly, it's meant 300 new jobs for the Northeast Kingdom. A new opportunity Lyn Dubois wanted to take full advantage of, "I was liking the idea of being involved with something that was starting from the ground up. So getting involved with the opening of the store was really great. Meeting new people, all the other new employees," she said. Dubois was out front to start the day, greeting the hundreds of customers who were walking in the doors. Most days she'll be working registers, helping customers with their purchases.
While not everyone has been in favor of the Derby location, for a company that employs 1 percent of the US population, others hope it will mean a boost in business across the board. "My hope is that people aren't just going to come here for Walmart, they're going to shop at our other stores and it will eventually boost the economy here. That's my hope," said McKay.
AN official ribbon cutting was held Wednesday morning. There is another big family welcoming event scheduled for November 19th and 20th.
The store is open 7 days a week from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm.
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