Carthage, North Moore to Celebrate new Walmart Opening
BY JOHN CHAPPELL
A new kind of Walmart is set to open this morning in Carthage, with a big crowd and a brass band.
Community leaders, including Carthage Town Manager Carol Sparks and Mayor Lee McGraw, are expected to join Walmart employees at 7:30 a.m. for a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Walmart Express.
The Union Pines High School Band is scheduled to play the national anthem, and a color guard from the school's Junior Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (JNROTC) is to present the colors.
The Walmart Express has been jokingly called a "Walmart Jr." but in fact has its own unique characteristics. The stocking plan is different, and many prices are actually lower than at the big stores.
These stores are an experiment for the company, with Walmart Express only to be found in its home state of Arkansas, the Chicago area, and North Carolina. While much will be familiar to regular Walmart shoppers, there are differences. In many cases, prices in Carthage will be cheaper than at big box Walmarts.
"From a customer's perspective, it has much of what a supercenter has without having to walk way across the building 40 miles to get what you need," store manager Kim Whitehead said last week, giving The Pilot an early walk-through of the tall, well-stocked aisles. "We have the whole line of paper products, household chemicals, hair care. We have frozen foods - not as large as a supercenter, but we still have the basic items."
About 80 percent of this store is grocery items, but mixed in with them are related things. On the coffee aisle, next to packaged coffees, are coffee pots. That stocking plan differs from most supermarkets where a longtime marketing scheme has been based on getting customers to walk through the stores. Here, every effort is made to keep related things close.
"Here we have carpet cleaners," Whitehead said. "But we have vacuum cleaners right next to them."
The store is located at 945 Monroe St. next to the Flying Tiger Chinese Restaurant and across from McDonald's.
Whitehead is a Walmart veteran who began her career 11 years ago as a cashier in Rockingham. She will tally up a dozen years come next March, she says.
"I live in a small town - Gibson - actually smaller than Carthage," she said. "It is next to Laurinburg."
The new manager has no plans to move to Carthage and will commute to her new job. She has two daughters, one just starting high school and one a 10-year-old.
She is a member of the Lumbee tribe, and proud of her heritage - and she's also proud of her new store, its unique character, its hometown feel, and the jobs it is bringing to Carthage.
"We have 37 hourly associates," Whitehead said. "Then there is me, and a staff pharmacist."
That pharmacist is a hometown man, Paul White, who is moving from the Aberdeen store to a new job not far from where he lives.
"I can walk to work," White said, beaming.
On Friday, the store will celebrate the senior class, faculty and staff of Union Pines High School with a "Senior Salute." Walmart workers will serve the class of 2013 breakfast and offer a pep rally to them at the new store from 7 to 8:15 a.m.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. operates more than 10,300 retail units under 69 different names in 27 countries, the company said in a news release accompanying news of the grand opening.
In fiscal year 2012, Walmart had sales of $444 billion, and currently employs 2.2 million people worldwide.
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or jfchappell@ gmail.com.
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