GLOVERSVILLE - After nine years of planning and former Mayor Frank LaPorta's initial announcement a Walmart Supercenter would come to the city, customers poured into the new store for the first time this morning.
"Frank LaPorta announced in 2004 that in 2006 we were going to see a Walmart Supercenter in Gloversville, and in just a few nine years later, that has become a reality," store Manager Marvin Massey said with a smile this morning during the store's grand opening. "This is just the beginning of a new chapter for this community and for everyone that works in this store. We now offer one-stop shopping for everyone and we want to save people money so they can live better."
Many of the customers walking around the store this morning after the ribbon-cutting ceremony said they were impressed with the 157,100-square-foot store's size.
Longtime Walmart employees cut the ribbon during the ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the new Walmart Supercenter in Gloversville this morning.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
"It's beautiful in here," said Bev Reams of Gloversville.
"I like the wider aisles, that is the best," said her husband, Gil.
The Walmart building also includes a Subway, a new branch office for the Fulton County Federal Credit Union, a Smart Style Family Hair Salon and Da Vi Nails.
The new store employs 255 people.
"I've been a Walmart shopper for 25 years," Scott Cook of St. Johnsville said this morning.
He said that previously, he would have to stop at the Walmart Supercenter in Herkimer on his way home from work in Saratoga. He said the new store will save him time and money.
"I don't have to fight traffic anymore trying to get there after work, and I was tired of grocery stores always remarking prices; with Walmart, they always stay more consistent," Cook said.
Another shopper, Angel Hill of Ephratah, said she is excited to save time driving to a different supercenter. She said she previously had to drive to Amsterdam.
"I think it is awesome," Hill said. "We have been waiting for this day for a long time, and I'm happy it is finally here."
President and CEO of the Credit Union Timothy Myers said, "We believe in Fulton County and we believe it is going to continue to grow, and by partnering with Walmart, we hope that shows our dedication to this area. The land we are standing on now we used to own, the former mayor of Gloversville is brothers with my board chair, so when Walmart approached the mayor with the proposal about the Supercenter, our board chair suggested providing the land. It is just an investment into the community, and we didn't do it for profit, we did it for the betterment of the community."
He said the new branch will have longer hours than the main office, which is next to the new Walmart.
The massive retail development is expected to have many benefits to the city, including sales tax revenue and the prospect of stimulating more commercial projects such as a Burger King that may come to South Kingsboro Avenue.
Mayor Dayton King spoke during the grand opening and said he is pleased the new store is open for business.
"It's hard to believe that it has been 741 days since many of the same people who are here today stood on this site with golden shovels," King said. "We anticipate people coming into our area to shop not only at this supercenter and the stores along Route 30A, but the increased traffic and people in our area will be felt in our downtown as well."
Chamber President Mark Kilmer said he believes the new store will benefit the county and the surrounding communities.
The store has a grocery section, a garden section, a pharmacy with a drive-through, a photo lab and a recycling area.
Public officials and store employees were treated to a VIP night at the new store Tuesday.
Former Mayor LaPorta made it out to see what had been in the planning stages for years.
"People kept asking me when it was coming and it's finally here," LaPorta said. "It looks great and I'm glad it's here and open."
During the VIP night, Walmart presented checks to local community organizations, including the Catholic Charities of Fulton and Montgomery Counties, Cerrone Memorial Foundation, the Gloversville Enlarged School District and the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
Massey said the new store is energy-efficient, with sky windows and concrete flooring. In the cooler sections, lights will come on as customers walk down the aisle and turn off during idle times.
Massey said customers will notice two entrances.
City Building Inspector Rob Robbins said the Walmart project originally was estimated to cost $6.7 million, but the cost likely has gone up.
Bast-Hatfield Construction of Clifton Park was the contractor.
The Walmart store on Fifth Avenue Extension in the town of Johnstown closed Tuesday.
Walmart is selling the Fifth Avenue Extension building. Hannaford supermarket owns its own building attached to the former Walmart store.
The new store created 85 new jobs, adding to the 170 employees at the former store. All of the new positions have been filled, Massey said.
Walmart has more than 2,900 supercenters in the United States, including stores in Amsterdam, Herkimer and Cobleskill.
Massey said the new store will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
City officials have said the store will generate additional revenue. It's projected to bring the city an additional $250,000 in sales tax revenue this year, Gloversville Finance Commissioner Bruce Van Genderen said. King and Van Genderen said they expect an additional $600,000 to $800,000 in revenue in a full fiscal year.