For those upset about the recent closings of some local retailers, Wal-Mart greeters in Evans are standing by.
The new Wal-Mart Supercenter on Washington Road could open by the last week of February, said Patrick Clifford, the store's manager.
"We're really excited," said Clifford. "We've got a great crew. And we're just finalizing things now."
Clifford said the store's construction is finished. Only the installation of inside fixtures, stocking of merchandise and training of employees is left.
"It's a great spot and a great-looking store," Clifford said. "We're real pleased with what the construction has done."
The Wal-Mart prepares to open on the heels of the closings of Service Merchandise on Wrightsboro Road and Macy's in the Augusta Mall.
Plans for the store drew protests early on from nearby residents, who said it wouldn't work within the constraints of the Evans Town Center - a concept designed to create a community identity in Evans by way of controlled growth.
Space requested for wall signs for the 205,000-square-foot store exceeded requirements of the town center's overlay zoning ordinance, which calls for sign space no larger than 200 square feet or 15 percent of the building's size. Columbia County commissioners compromised and approved wall signs that totaled 750 square feet.
Candace Dodaro (left) and Cindy Mattingly stock shelves in the new Walmart in Evans.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Still, Clifford said his Wal-Mart has gone beyond the requirements of the Evans Town Center.
"We have doubled their requirements on landscaping, on trees, on bushes," he said. "It doesn't look very pretty right now because it's dormant season, but come the springtime, when all the trees bloom out, it's going to be just a beautiful location."
Already, Clifford said, nearly 500 people have been hired to work at the location.
"We are actually going to do probably one more wave of hiring," he said.
The superstore will be open 24 hours a day and will have a full-line grocery store, pharmacy, hair salon, nail salon, portrait studio, McDonald's, embroidery shop and candy boutique.
Fifteen other stores will accompany the Centre at Evans, a development around the Wal-Mart. Clifford said that he doesn't know which businesses will fill the strip and that the decision is up to Wyatt Development, the shopping center's developer. Several calls made to Jim Price of Wyatt Development were not returned.
Clifford said the Wal-Mart on Bobby Jones Expressway will remain open. The new store in Evans is simply a location of convenience, he said.
"I know with the growth down Washington Road it gets tougher and tougher to get to Martinez with more and more traffic. Obviously we're going to alleviate some of the traffic woes that head to Martinez. And then we'll also take care of the customers even farther out in Columbia County."
"We're really excited. We've got a great crew. And we're just finalizing things now."
Wal-Mart Supercenter of Evans store manager Patrick Clifford,
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