At nearly 200,000 square feet, Fresno's newest Wal-Mart Supercenter opens Wednesday. Photo by Frank Lopez
Written by Frank Lopez
The new Wal-Mart Supercenter on West Shaw Avenue in Fresno gave local media a sneak preview ahead of the store’s official Wednesday morning opening.
Wal-Mart officials said the store’s relocation has been a 25-year process, culminating in the 8 a.m. grand opening.
The new store, across Brawley Avenue from the old location, is in the former Camp America building. It covers 194,000 square feet and has a bakery that offers customizable cakes, bread and pastries baked in-store, a fresh deli counter and a hot food counter that offers items such as rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.
The previous location was 127,000 square feet.
The food aisles were expanded from four-and-a-half-feet wide to eight-feet wide, meat and food coolers are covered to ensure safer food storage temperatures, and refrigerators have new doors that look more chic and are more energy efficient.
Wal-Mart is looking to expand and offer more products from different lines. Wal-Mart is undergoing an “apparel revolution” after word from customers that their clothes were outdated.
Tino Alonzo managed the previous location, and will also oversee the new supercenter. He said the retailer considered what shoppers would like to see in the store and how to avoid problems encountered in the past.
With the closing of Toys ‘R’ Us, Alonzo wanted to feature a large toy section and expanded it to 865 feet, making it the biggest toy section in any Wal-Mart in the Central Valley.
He noticed that people shopping for baby strollers would try to take them off high shelves to inspect them, so for the new store he displayed the strollers on the ground so shoppers can easily test them.
There are call boxes on locked cases that will notify a store associate to assist customers. To make wait times shorter for customer service, money and return services have their own centers.
The new store will offer a Mobile Express service, which will allow for online returns that will cut down wait times in store, and it could also be used for pharmacy pick ups and will also offer delivery service, which will be done by trained and certified personal shoppers.
Though not part of the original plan, customer demand prompted the return of the fabric section, and there will be a Wal-Mart Vision center with a doctor always present, as opposed to other stores who might only have technicians.
There is still an automotive section, but automotive services will not be offered at the Supercenter. It is an aspect of the store that Wal-Mart has been slowly fading out, Alonzo said.
A food vendor is slated to move in later on, and there is a SEVA beauty salon in the front of the store.
Renovations for the Wal-Mart Supercenter lasted about three months. There will be around 120 employees hired on, bringing the total to about store 340 employees.
Alonzo said he and the employees are happy to move into the new store.
I’m very excited. I can’t wait to open the store, show the customers what we have to offer, open up and get it going,” Alonzo said. “There’s been a lot of people eager for it to open and they are excited.”