Spring is in the air, can’t you smell it? Flowers are getting ready to boom, the weather is warming (wait, did it ever cool off?) and there is a new Walmart opening in Panama City Beach. Nope, they aren’t replacing the old Walmart, this will be in addition to the other Walmart, colloquially referred to as “The Beach Walmart.”
I swear I had found some article substantiating a claim that the Beach Walmart was the highest in volume sales nationally for Walmart Corp, but I can’t find it now, so maybe that was all a dream. But, General Manager Jennifer Ross (the Beach Walmart’s former GM and the new GM at the Pier Park Walmart) mentioned that possibly the claim I was referring to was total in beer and liquor volume sales.
Last week I had the opportunity to tour the new Walmart with Store Manager Jennifer Ross. A firm opening date will be announced this week, but Ross expects they’ll be ready to open next week.
Let’s talk about what’s different.
The big question everyone has had about this new Walmart is what the difference is between it and the existing Walmart. With the existing Walmart ringing in at around 220,000 square feet, the new Walmart is about 70% of that size, just over 156,000 square feet. Naturally, one would think the new Walmart is smaller than the other one, offering less of a selection, but there are a few things that the new Walmart doesn’t have that accounts for that lost square footage.
One huge component the new Walmart doesn’t have, that accounts for a large amount of the square footage difference is the Tire and Lube center. Additionally, there is almost no tenant space in the new Walmart, with the exception of a Subway and Airbrush. The Beach Walmart has an Eye Center, Nail Salon and other tenant space at the front of the store.
Walking around the inside of the store, it really feels every bit as large as the other Beach Walmart.
Other things that are new to this Walmart.
One of the things I love about the new Walmart is that they kept the exterior design completely consistent with that of Pier Park. We’d been seeing signs of this all along, but it was something, as a community, I’ve heard concern of.
- Implementation of sustainability features, including
- Freezer motion sensor lights
- Cycling overhead lights
- Energy efficient refrigeration
- Concrete floors
- Recycled composite counters that look like granite
- All touch-screen registers
- Bull-pen style self check-out with 8 registers
- Drive-through pharmacy
- A/C ducts for Outdoor Center cashiers
- Big Ass Fans in Outdoor Center (you’ll just have to go see them, that’s really their name)
Right now they’re looking to hire about 50 more people for the season claiming they’ll employ about 250 people seasonally and 250 people normally the rest of the year.
Economically, this is pretty huge. This one installment literally added over 200 jobs locally and will definitely supplement the city’s tax revenue bucket offing a diversified shopping opportunity for travelers on the west end of Panama City Beach.