A new Walmart Neighborhood Market opened Wednesday at Cedar and Shields avenues on the site of the former Cedar Lanes Bowling Center.
It’s the third such market for the area. Others are in Clovis at Shaw and Fowler avenues and in Fresno at Willow and Herndon avenues. The newly opened store is the first one on the south side of town.
So what exactly is it?
It’s not a mini Walmart, contrary to what some believe. Neighborhood markets are essentially grocery stores.
This one features everything you’d find in a typical grocery store: Fresh fruit and vegetables, a bakery, cleaning supplies, frozen foods, pet food and a health and beauty section. At 41,000 square feet, the new store is about the size of the region’s typical supermarkets.
The store has a full pharmacy with a drive-thru. It also has a large beer, wine and liquor aisle, with the liquor bottles behind locked transparent doors.
Unlike the other neighborhood markets in Fresno and Clovis, this one has a full-service deli. Employees will cut meat and cheese to order from a selection including everything from corned beef to Cajun-style turkey breast and Havarti cheese.
The store is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and employs 95 full- and part-time workers.
It has four self-checkout stands and a station to pick up merchandise ordered from Walmart.com.
The store opened Wednesday after a ribbon cutting featuring rock music and cheerleaders. Hundreds of customers flooded the store and received tortillas and other freebies. Several mascots, from Chester Cheetah to La Tapatia’s giant taco named Paco Taco, roamed the aisles.
The company donated $8,000 at the ribbon cutting to community groups, including Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central California, McLane High School (which is just down the street), Safe Kids Central California and Life Church.
The Walmart was built from scratch on the site of the former bowling alley, which was torn down in the summer of 2013. Though the store looks nothing like its predecessor, the bowling alley isn’t forgotten. A display of memorabilia sits behind the customer service counter. It features a bowling pin, a menu, a pair of old bowling shoes and trophies.
The store was built in a location that didn’t need any zoning changes or other special permission, noted Fresno City Council Member Clint Olivier, who attended Wednesday’s grand opening.
“Inner-city Fresno is revitalizing itself without government interference, without subsidies,” he said.