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Walmart opening grocery store in fall

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Green construction fencing signals the start of work on Lincoln’s first Walmart, which is slated to open this fall. Construction crews have begun tenant improvements on the former Rainbow Market building, located at 255 G St., according to Walmart spokesperson Delia Garcia on Friday. “We are working with an existing building and the exciting part of the project is being able to revitalize an existing property,” Garcia said. “We are still on track for a fall of 2012 opening.” Tenant improvement plans for the building at 255 G St. were pulled on Jan. 4, according to Amanda Norton, Lincoln’s housing and special projects coordinator, on Friday. Garcia said the tenant improvements are mainly being done to the interior of the building. “Even though it was a grocery store previously, we will want to change the interior to fit the neighborhood market layout,” Garcia said. “You won’t see a lot of extensive changes to the exterior.” Garcia said the store will “feature a full-service grocery department.” “The neighborhood market is designed for quick, convenient shopping for customers who are looking for general merchandise but primarily fresh groceries,” Garcia said. General merchandise includes household cleaners, household supplies, pet supplies and health and beauty items, Garcia said. Walmart will open a hiring center for the store, according to Garcia, “in early summer.” “We’ll be creating 75 new jobs within the community. We’ll have a range of positions from cashiers to managers to pharmacy technicians,” Garcia said. “We are looking to hire locally. We want the store to reflect the local community.” Garcia said the average hourly full time wage for Walmart employees is $12.74. The News Messenger asked Garcia why Walmart chose to open a store in Lincoln. Garcia said Lincoln was “an area that’s underserved for affordable groceries.” “This location in Lincoln gives us an opportunity to serve our Lincoln customers better and closer to home,” Garcia said. “We see growth happening in Lincoln and this is a location to serve the growing community with an affordable option for groceries.” When asked by The News Messenger for a comment regarding Walmart opening in the fall, Lincoln Mayor Spencer Short said he was “excited” to hear that. “It shows the economy is starting to turn and we have businesses interested in locating in Lincoln,” Short said. “It’s good for Lincoln because it’s the start of hopefully a slight uptick in big business looking at Lincoln as a place to build, which is great for our economy. Small businesses have been the driving force in Lincoln’s economy in the past two years.” Short also said that Walmart coming to Lincoln “is a signal that large companies are looking at Lincoln as being a viable business opportunity.” The News Messenger asked Short if Lincoln needs another grocery store, since Safeway, Raley’s, Fresh & Easy and Target are already located in town. “That’s fine because we need grocery business to support existing residential,” Short said. “When you look at grocery stores, it’s one store for every 10,000 people. The service area for Lincoln is about 70,000 to 80,000 people.” Short said the new store “will give folks who have limited ability to travel more shopping nearby” and will “bring people together.” While “old town squares were the meeting place where you’d run into friends and neighbors,” Short said, that meeting place has shifted from the town square to “shopping venues.” “Rainbow was a fixture in the community for decades,” Short said. “This will provide another shopping venue to bring people together, and friends and neighbors can shop while they talk.”