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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jun. 26, 201802:55 PM EST

Walmart Neighborhood Market opens Wednesday in Baymeadows

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Store is designed to reduce the sometimes intimidating elements of Walmart Supercenters.

By Drew Dixon, Contributing Writer

The first Walmart Neighborhood Market built from the ground up in Jacksonville opens Wednesday on Baymeadows Road on the Southside.

The 41,000-square-foot store at 9550 Baymeadows Road is designed to fit into the neighborhood while not being as obtrusive as the retail chain’s supercenters.

The parking lot at the Walmart Neighborhood Market is stripped in preparation for Wednesday's opening.

Jacksonville business leaders touring the store Tuesday approved of the design.

“This is more well-organized. The signage is better. I think it’s going to be easier to shop here,” said Cal Heseman, a member of the South Council board of directors for JAX Chamber.

Walmart has about a half-dozen similar stores in Jacksonville, but they were refurbishments or makeovers of existing structures.

Heseman said the new store is a reflection of economic development in Jacksonville’s Southside.

“You see all the construction that’s going on, all the new apartments that are going up. You’ve got other new stores. You’ve got Aldi stores coming in. It’s happening,” Heseman said.

The market also is across Baymeadows Road from a Winn-Dixie store that Southeastern Grocers closed in the spring as it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy organization.

Store Manager Paul Rodriguez said the Neighborhood Market is focused on groceries and pharmaceutical needs, with wider aisles and lower shelves.

He said it’s designed to reduce the sometimes intimidating elements of Walmart Supercenters.

According to Walmart.com, Neighborhood Markets average 38,000 square feet, while supercenters are almost five times as large at 182,000 square feet.

“It’s just like a warm, welcoming store that’s big and carries the items they want, but not too big to where it doesn’t fit right into the neighborhood,” Rodriguez said.

The store is part of the Walmart 2.0 design. That means lower countertops, larger bakeries, larger deli areas, drive-thru pharmacies and other revisions.

 “We want to make it convenient for our customers,” Rodriguez said.

Workers hired at the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Baymeadows Road gather around the front desk for directions from managers in preparation of the store's opening Wednesday.

“It’s very easy for a customer to get a basket and get what they need based on the layout of the store. Everything in this store was specifically put in place to help the shoppers buy what they want easily,” he said.

About 130 employees work at the store, which opens at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. The market will operate daily from 6 a.m. to midnight.

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