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Second Wal-Mart opens in Victoria (video)

ALLISON MILES

By ALLISON MILES
Sept. 10, 2013 at 4:10 a.m.
Updated Sept. 11, 2013 at 4:11 a.m.

Laura Rivera, store manager, speaks about the new Wal-Mart opening up on Rio Grande Street in Victoria. Behind her is the fresh produce section, which is  at the entrance of the store.

Look out, Crossroads. Victoria's a two Wal-Mart town.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based chain will open its second local Wal-Mart at 6 a.m. Wednesday, said Laura Rivera, the new store's manager.

The mostly-stocked shop at 4001 Houston Highway was busy Monday as employees and vendors alike stocked shelves and put the finishing touches on a project months in the works.

"Today was our first delivery of produce and meat. And it was the first day for Subway," Rivera said Monday, as she gestured toward employees who had stopped for lunch. "We're ready to go. If they'd let us open now, I would."

Wal-Mart's new Victoria home, which employs about 300 people, offers fresh produce and a grocery section along with its other offerings. A vision center, auto care center, pharmacy and garden center, as well as an in-store Subway, also join the mix.

Unlike the company's existing store, at 9002 N. Navarro St., it also sells live fish.

Rivera said the biggest draw is the store's location.

"I think the area has waited to have something on this side of town for a long time," she said, noting the change will help some save money on gas. "It's about convenience."

Such is the case for Inez resident Kim Ells, who said she looks forward to having a place to shop nearby. Not only is the store near home, but it's also down the street from Skillet's, where she works.

"I don't really go to Wal-Mart now, just because it's so far away," Ells, 27, said as she watched her daughter climb up a slide at Riverside Park. "But I like the store. It has a better selection than a lot of places."

Proximity is also key for Susie Rosales, a Victoria stay-at-home mom, grandma and wife.

Ongoing growth in Victoria is a good thing, she said, but it makes for added traffic along Navarro Street. Locating a store along Houston Highway will help.

"I'm glad to see things moving out that way," Rosales, 54, said. "I won't have to drive so far."

She said she has big plans to check out the new store - especially now that her Wal-Mart credit card is paid off, so she has some more buying power - but you might not find her there that first day.

"Maybe next week," she said. "I'll let it die down a little. I know it's going to be packed."

Keith Totah is general manager for America's Best Value Inn and Suites, which sits just down the road from Wal-Mart. He said he's watched the store's development from the ground up and looks forward to the opening.

The new business will improve traffic flow to the area, he said, and it's good to have another place for hotel guests to shop.

"I'm sure we're going to get some business out of it - sales people and things like that," he said. "We can't wait."

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