WESTCHESTER (CBS4) – Despite some controversy, the new Westchester Walmart mega-store held its grand opening celebration at 8400 Coral Way Saturday. Crowds packed the store, filling their carts with everything from groceries to clothing, despite concern from local businesses the giant store could ruin them.
Employees scrambled to restock empty shelves constantly throughout the day, after they were stripped by people just interested in bargains. “It has been a gift from heaven,” exclaimed customer Dagmar Cifuentes. “We’ve been waiting for it.”
Cifuentes said she likes the store because it is one stop shopping at an affordable price. “Low prices and they’re very competitive and they have everything that you need,” she said.
In this troubling economy more and more people are looking for deals. Many aware that Walmart’s low prices have a cost for nearby businesses, but they were more concerned about their own business.
“The small businesses are affected,” said Jose Cifuentes, Dagmar’s husband. “The small supermarkets, the mom and pop stores those will be struggling the most. But we’re here to reap the benefits anyways.”
Across the street, the owner of a small clothing store said he was at first worried about the impact of Walmart on his business. “Initially I was concerned,” said Carlos Saldarriaga. “But now I believe it will bring more business to the area.”
Walmart store manager Kevin Perry said its benefits outweigh any issues. ” I would say just look at the jobs that we’re also providing to the community,” said Perry. “And look at the prices that we’re able to save our consumers. I don’t think we’re really taking anything away. I just think we’re just able to add more.”
Perry said the Walmart hired 350 people and could hire more depending on how sales go. Viviana Henrich, the bakery manager, was one of those hires. She said she is grateful for the employment in this bad job market.
“I was very lucky under I don’t know how much, many thousands of people applied and me to get a management position, I was very thankful and blessed.”
The Westchester Walmart is open from 6am to 11pm.