Local Walmart marks 20th year

Written by Bill Rautenstrauch, The Observer October 03, 2012 01:40 pm

Island City Walmart associates take a big pair of scissors and cut through a red ribbon during the grand re-opening event Friday that marked the store’s 20th year of business. BRAD MOSHER - The Observer
Island City Walmart associates take a big pair of scissors and cut through a red ribbon during the grand re-opening event Friday that marked the store’s 20th year of business. BRAD MOSHER - The Observer

Walmart on Island Avenue in Island City uncorked a celebration Friday, observing its 20th birthday with a “grand re-opening” ribbon cutting in front of the store.

Walmart started out in Union County as a small store, but a major expansion in the summer and fall of 2006 turned it into a supercenter. With the addition of a full service grocery section and expansion of departments throughout the store, the local outlet grew from 73,000 square feet to 179,000. 

Assistant Manager Tim Lowden was one of several people who spoke to the crowd of community leaders, store associates and shoppers gathered for Saturday’s  ribbon cutting. Lowden said he has enjoyed watching the store grow over the years.

“There have been changes and it’s been a lot of fun,” Lowden said. “I’ve gotten to know so many customers who have become friends. It’s a fantastic feeling to meet so many nice people over 20 years.”

Lowden also had good things to say about the workers who make the store successful day-to-day.

“I’d like to thank the associates. It’s you guys who make it run,” he said.

Among many people who expressed gratitude for Walmart’s community involvements was Carmen Gentry, Community Connection’s Union County manager and the director of the agency’s food bank program. Gentry noted that since 2009, Walmart has donated 630,000 pounds of food to Community Connection’s Fresh Alliance program.

“It’s food that would have gone to the landfill. It’s nutritious food that fills a big need,” Gentry said as she presented a plaque to store management.

Friday’s event included presentations of checks for $5,000 each from Walmart to the American Cancer Society, Greenwood Elementary School and La Grande High School.

The grand re-opening continued throughout the day with in-store promotions, games and prizes for customers.