All those colorful commercials for fresh food at discount prices were always meaningless for Farmington residents because nowhere nearby was there a Walmart grocery store. But now, a town over in West Hartford, the Walmart-owned Neighborhood Market will opens its doors to customers at 7:30 a.m. this morning.
A brief ceremony and ribbon-cutting will kick off the grand opening celebration which will include product samplings, giveaways, and various entertainment events.
On Tuesday evening, as associates were finishing stocking shelves and the final touches were being put on the store's interior, Manager Stacey McCarty provided a sneak peek inside the store.
"Neighborhood Market will become special to the West Hartford community," McCarty said. She said many will find the low prices "shocking" for the area since most of Walmart's prices are standard throughout the country.
The store, at approximately 60,000 square feet, is smaller than what shoppers would expect from a Walmart, and roughly the size of many area supermarkets.
"We're about overall shopping convenience," McCarty said. Dairy and produce are in the same aisle, and if you enter the store, head to the left, and shop in a clockwise direction you will automatically pick up the freshest products right before you leave.
The aisle nearest the door is also where the "Grab and Go" is located – stocked with rotisserie chickens ($5.98) and Neighborhood Market's "fried" chicken which is really steam-baked. (McCarty assured this Patch reporter that it would be a popular item with her teenage son and his friends.) "Take-and-bake" pizzas, as well as standard deli sides, fresh bread, and bakery items are also readily available.
McCarty hopes customers will find some major advantages to shopping at Neighborhood Market, including its selection of celebration items; pet department that includes leashes, collars, and toys; large pharmacy; a large selection of baby products; and an extensive health and beauty section that is identical to that found in a Walmart Supercenter.
It's also arranged for convenience, with vacuums near the cleaning supplies and baking pans near the baking supplies, McCarty said. In addition, specialty products, such as kosher and gluten-free foods, are mixed in with their base items rather than in their own sections, she said.
Neighborhood Market doesn't sell apparel or electronics, but they do offer "Site-to-Store" service, which ships online orders from www.walmart.com free to the store for pickup.
The store is also open for extended hours – from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. The pharmacy is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., but McCarty said if there's a demand for even more extended hours, "We'll jump on it."
McCarty said the Bishops Corner location was chosen as the site of Connecticut's first Neighborhood Market because of its availability. "This building had been abandoned for years, and we saw it as an opportunity to reinvent the neighborhood. We took an eyesore and it's now a beautiful store," she said.
Neighborhood Market will initially employ 130 associates in the Bishops Corner store, although McCarty said that number would presumably drop over time due to attrition. Approximately 40 percent are full time, she said, and 87 percent are new hires to the company. About 15 are transfers from other stores, most into key new positions.
McCarty said that Neighborhood Market also looks forward to giving back to the local community, and has already donated 11 pallets – about 11,000 pounds – of fresh produce and other items to Foodshare.
"We're delighted to be in the northeast with Neighborhood Market, and this is a a great place to start," said Community & Media Relations Manager Bill Wertz.
For more information, call 860-509-1705 or visit www.walmart.com.