DOWNEY – Walmart, the newest addition to the still developing Downey Promenade, hosted a successful ribbon cutting and grand opening Wednesday morning, much to the dismay of many of Downey’s residents.
The morning’s ceremony kicked off at around 7:30 am, and was attended by notable Downey residents, including Mayor Alex Saab, former Mayor Mario Guerra, a few of Downey’s royal court, and a section of the Warren Band led by Band Director David Niemeyer.
As a part of the opening to the ceremony, Guerra dedicated the store with a blessing.
“The Book of Proverbs says ‘Without vision the people shall perish,’ and folks, on May 10th 2010, we got a phone call telling us that this place here was not going to be the Tesla plant,” said Guerra. “…We pouted. We cried. We were heartbroken because this location right here is special in the history of mankind…that was on May 10th. We sat the next day and told our staff, ‘You know, we get to pout over the weekend, until May 14th that Monday. And then let’s get together and say what’s next. Folks, this is what’s next.”
Mayor Saab also made a few comments and presented the store with a certificate of recognition on behalf of the residents of Downey.
“This property is very sacred to us. This is the land where dreams were reached, where people worked beyond imagination. We are very proud of this property, and this is where dreams will continue to flourish.”
Downey Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Kovach also spoke, adding “We are thrilled that [Walmart] are planning to be a partner with the Chamber and we look forward to a great association with Walmart.”
The addition of Walmart has been a hotbed of debate between many of Downey’s residents, with many opposing its inclusion into the Promenade due to the store chain’s somewhat infamous reputation and what some might describe as notorious clientele.
The public outcry has been prevalent since then Mayor Pro Tem Saab announced Walmart’s arrival late last year. The public’s opinion was never more present when Downey Patriot Editor Eric Pierce published an article entitled “I Will Shop at Walmart (and you Probably will too)” earlier this week.
The outspoken response to Pierce’s article seemed primarily negative, with many saying that they would take their business elsewhere; some even claiming to boycott the Promenade all together. Very few supported the store’s opening, or instead decided to be optimistic.
Originally, a higher end store was planned to be the cornerstone of Downey’s latest dining, shopping, and entertainment enterprise. However, the final result of Walmart was claimed to be out of the city’s hands by Saab in an article published in last year’s Year in Review magazine.
Despite any negative feelings towards Walmart, however, Wednesday’s ribbon cutting stayed peaceful and quiet without any known incidents.
The store is now open to the public.