DOWNEY - After months of construction, the 33,000-sq.-ft. Walmart Neighborhood Market at 12270 Paramount Blvd. is now open following a festive ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday."We are excited to welcome Walmart to Downey," said Councilman Mario Guerra who represents portions of south Downey. "This new store will drive shoppers to an area that needed revitalization and will increase foot traffic to nearby small businesses in the community. "The added tax revenue will allow us to continue to provide great benefits to our city," he added. The new grocery store, which is the third Walmart Neighborhood Market to open in Los Angeles County, occupies the building once maintained by Alin's Party Depot. In addition to traditional grocery, produce, health and beauty products, the Walmart store brings 65 new jobs to the community. Rachel Wall, senior manager of community affairs for Walmart, said the company chose Downey because local residents were already shopping the Walmart brand. "[This store] is tailored for the Downey community, featuring a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, fresh cakes and bread, as well as meats, cheeses and prepared foods," said Wall. "Shoppers will also appreciate the convenience of the store's pharmacy, along with a full selection of health-related products." Although smaller than the typical Neighborhood Market, Wall believes the Downey location will provide economic vitality for both Walmart and the city. While Walmart would not reveal exactly how much money was spent renovating the vacant space, store manager Jaime Onibasa acknowledged the aging building was nearly gutted inside during eight months of construction. "We're very excited to bring a Neighborhood Market to Downey," said Onibasa, a 15-year employee of Walmart who's worked at five other Neighborhood Market locations. "The Neighborhood Market is a small, community store that will give residents a choice when it comes to affordable, fresh and healthy food options for their families." As a part of the retailer's effort to support community projects with charitable contributions, Onibasa and the Walmart store have also pledged $13,000 to local schools and non-profits, including: Downey YMCA ($2,500), Downey Kiwanis ($2,500), Gangs Out of Downey ($1,500), PTA Helps ($1,500), Downey High Cheer ($1,000), Arc ($1,000), St. Raymond Catholic School ($1,000), Latin Business Association Institute ($1,000) and True Lasting Connection ($1,000). Onibasa said she hopes to donate to other community organizations next year and encouraged those groups to both apply online and contact her directly. The store's grand-opening celebration will continue throughout the weekend including character appearances, a live band, and face-painting for children. All events are family-friendly, free and open to the public. The Downey location will be open seven days a week from 5 a.m. to midnight. Mayor Roger Brossmer praised the grocery store as another step in the right direction for the city in terms of quality of life and economic development. "This new Walmart Neighborhood Market will bring affordable, healthy produce and more food options to our residents," said Brossmer. "The store will significantly benefit this growing community by offering additional revenue and new jobs." Walmart Neighborhood Markets, which are a part of a new strategy to focus on the coveted urban and suburban markets by opening smaller, more efficient Walmart locations across the country, offer quick and convenient shopping for groceries, pharmacy items and general merchandise. The first Neighborhood Market opened in 1998, and today there are approximately 200 stores nationwide. Earlier this year, Neighborhood Markets opened in Panorama City and nearby Bell Gardens.
********** Published: November 8, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 30