BENNINGTON — The new Walmart store's grand opening will be celebrated this morning with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The ceremony starts at 7:30 a.m. and includes the awarding of several thousand dollars in grants to local community organizations. Two more special events for customers will be held this weekend.

A news release issued by the Arkansas-based company on Tuesday touts the new 112,000-square-foot building as having a full grocery store with produce, a deli, a bakery, and kitchen pantry staples, as well as organic options. A new full-service vision center will offer on-site eye exams and fittings for glasses and contact lenses. Walmart Bennington also has a Facebook page: www.facebook.com/walmart2289.

The company says the new store created 125 new jobs and will employ up to 230 part- and full-time employees.

"We are excited to reopen with a brand new store just in time for back to school season," BJ Clay, store manager, said in a statement.

The ribbon cutting includes awarding $6,500 in grants from the Walmart Foundation to local community groups, including the Bennington Police Department, Bennington County Sheriff, Dartmouth Children's Hospital and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

At the "Big Family Welcome" celebration this weekend, customers will be able to meet employees and the store manager while enjoying family activities and free food samples while supplies last. Those events are Saturday, Aug. 26, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 27, from noon to 4 p.m.


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The new store is almost twice the size of the 56,000-square-foot store the retailer has occupied since 1995, and was built directly behind the existing store. It took eight years from the time the controversial project garnered local permits before construction began.

The new store includes a 600-square-foot pharmacy space; a 1,124-square-foot vision center; a 55,000-square-foot indoor sales space, which includes 28,000 square feet of grocery space; and a 4,500-square-foot covered outdoor garden center for live plants and other merchandise, according to construction plans.

A new roundabout at the entrance to Northside Plaza was completed last week. It replaced the existing traffic lights and protected turning lanes at the intersection of Northside Drive (Route 7A), Emma Street and Plaza Drive.

The new store will be open every day from 6 a.m. to midnight.

Contact Ed Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.