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Walmart opens prototype store in Guelph

Mayor and shoppers impressed by new store

Officials, associates, and shoppers were “all fired up and ready to go,” for opening day of the new Walmart Supercentre on Stone Road, which was being called “#1199” at the event. It’s the company’s 406th store.  

The parking lot was nearly filled at around 7:30 a.m., and about 150, including Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie, crowded around the main entrance for a ribbon cutting ceremony and speech-making. 

Shoppers were impressed, and some bedazzled by the large, open, bright and well-stocked store, said to be a kind of prototype for future Walmart store designs.

All who worked to put the store together in time for the launch were profusely thanked by company brass, including the store’s manager Crystal Truax.

Truax also thanked her family for their patience and for holding down the home fort while she did what she had to do to make the store a reality.

Many long days without days off were spent getting the retail pieces in place, and associates and management from Guelph first Walmart pitched in, guests heard. One official called it a “monumental, epic effort.”

When asked how they felt about what they had accomplished, associates in chorus replied, “All fired up and ready to go!” Even the mayor got in on the act.

Guthrie said when Target’s failed foray into Canada left the building at 175 Stone Road W. empty, it was “a sad day for Guelph.”

“When I first heard that Walmart was coming in to resurrect the site, I was very thrilled,” Guthrie said, adding that city staff worked hard to expedite the process of developing the site.

“This is about jobs, and choice for our community,” Guthrie said. “And its about tax dollars for the city. Thanks for that.” The crowd chuckled along with Guthrie

Like the shoppers getting a first look at the store, Guthrie liked what he saw. He appreciated the “human-scale” of the layout, which opens up the space and makes more of its merchandise visible. And he said he likes the brightness, and the amount of stuff.

“I can’t believe the stuff you have in here,” the mayor said.

He thanked Walmart choosing Guelph for the new store, and said the city wants "to roll out the red carpet, not the red tape” for business. 

Jeff and Caitlynn McMullen of Fergus, along with their baby Malcolm, were among the first families to get a look at the store. They said it was several steps above the Walmart in their town.

“It’s a clean, bright addition,” said Jeff. “Everyone is very friendly, and staff is always checking in with us to make sure we're finding what we need.”

The Walmart in Fergus, he added, is hardly as well stocked as the new one on Stone Road.

The new, 121,000 square foot store showcases a new layout and new signage to ease the shopping experience, according to the company. It also features a large grocery section featuring many Ontario-grown products.  

Truax reminded the public that the “big event” for the store will be this Saturday, when a grand opening party happens at the location from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be family activities, live music, and more.

“This shows us what future Walmart stores could look like,” Truax said. “Thank you very much to our customers today.”

She thanked her associates for their hard work.

“We have become a family, haven’t we,” she said.

The new store is an addition to the Canadian Walmart chain that numbers over 400 stores nationwide. About 1.2 million people visit those stores daily, with another 600,000 visiting

The new store in Guelph will employ about 170 people.

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Rob O'Flanagan

About the Author: Rob O'Flanagan

Rob O’Flanagan has been a newspaper reporter, photojournalist and columnist for over twenty years. He has won numerous Ontario Newspaper Awards and a National Newspaper Award.
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