With the purchase of a bag of potato chips Wednesday, former Grovetown Mayor Dennis Trudeau became the first customer of a new Walmart near the city.
"I always try to be the first customer of any new business in Grovetown," said Trudeau, who retired last year after serving as mayor for 20 years. "I want to show my support for all of our new businesses."
The Walmart anchors The Gateway shopping center on Horizon South Parkway at Interstate 20. Dozens of area residents patiently waited Wednesday for the doors of the Supercenter to open following a 7:30 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Andrew Von Plinsky, a commercial salesman for Georgia Power, was among those patrons. He attended the ribbon-cutting and then bought a bottle of water.
"Walmart is a good customer and a good neighbor," said Von Plinsky, who lives about three miles away from the store. "I wanted to be a part of the excitement of the opening this morning."
Company executives demonstrated their neighbor-friendly attitude Tuesday evening. The company donated a total of $20,000 to the Salvation Army, United We Care, other nonprofit groups and numerous area schools.
"There's been so much excitement about this," said store Manager Dale Wooten. "It's great to be a part of it and a part of this community.
"People here have really embraced us and our presence, and that's a good thing for both Walmart and the city."
The presence of a Walmart often attracts other businesses, Wooten said.
Already, Wooten expects a gas station, new restaurants and other small businesses to open inside The Gateway.
"They really do attract a lot of attention," Trudeau said. "But to me, it says a lot about Grovetown and how quickly we're growing that we caught Walmart's attention."
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