Local leaders and community members joined Walmart, its 65 employees and hundreds of customers for the grand opening of the Walmart Neighborhood Market in downtown Los Angeles at 701 W. Cesar E. Chavez Ave.
The store soft opened on Friday, Sept. 13 to give folks an opportunity to preview the store, and since then has served more than 10,000 customers.
The 34,000-sq.-ft. store occupies the ground floor of the Grand Plaza building, a space that was intended for a supermarket but left vacant for more than two decades. This is the second Walmart Neighborhood Market in Los Angeles and is serving residents of downtown Los Angeles, Bunker Hill, Echo Park and Chinatown.
"I'm happy this new Walmart Neighborhood Market is finally open and to see new investment that will continue to revitalize Chinatown and downtown Los Angeles, and bring much needed jobs to local residents," said George Yu, executive director, Chinatown Business Improvement District. "Chinatown, Echo Park, Downtown and Bunker Hill residents have been waiting for more than 25 years for a full-service grocery to this community."
"We welcome Walmart and are very excited to have the Neighborhood Market in our community to offer affordable grocery options," said Gary Toebben, president and CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. "This new Neighborhood Market has offered 65 much needed jobs to local residents and has already served as an anchor to drive new businesses to the Grand Plaza building."
"The Walmart Neighborhood Market will drive continued growth and development to the downtown area and support our vision for a lively downtown community," Carol Schatz, president and CEO, Central City Association of Los Angeles. "We thank Walmart for investing in downtown and putting local residents back to work."
In Los Angeles County, there are seven other Neighborhood Markets, including Panorama City (in Los Angeles), Altadena, Downey, Torrance, Hawthorne, Bell Gardens and Hawaiian Gardens.
The Walmart Neighborhood Market is similar to a traditional grocery store and offers fresh produce, including California-grown produce; a full line of groceries, including frozen foods, meat and dairy products; some organic and gluten-free items; self-serve deli meats, cheeses, prepared foods and a self-serve bakery, including fresh baked bread daily and a cake case.
The downtown Walmart Neighborhood Market is also offering customers a choice of reusable or paper bags for their groceries, months in advance of the city’s ban on plastic bags, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014.
This store includes a full-service pharmacy with a separate entrance, offering customers even more convenience when filling or transferring prescriptions, receiving one-on-one consultation with a pharmacist about their medications, or purchasing over-the-counter medications and health and beauty products.
This store will also be the first Walmart store in the nation to feature Homeboy Industries products including Tortilla Strips and Salsa, supplied by Los Angeles-based nonprofit Homeboy Industries, which provides free services, job placement and referrals for former gang members. Homeboy Industries funds these programs in part through social enterprise endeavors, including Homegirl Café & Catering, Homeboy Bakery and Homeboy Grocery.
Walmart will also hold an event Saturday, Sept. 21 so customers can get what the big box retailer is calling "A Big Family Welcome." Customers will get a chance to meet employees at the downtown Neighborhood Market at the gathering, which will run from noon-3 p.m. and feature face painting, a barbecue, music, mural signing, cupcake decorating and reusable bag distribution.