Walmart: About 500 show up for Pittsfield Township store opening
Shoppers started arriving at 6:45 a.m. for this morning’s grand opening of the Pittsfield Township Walmart, forming a crowd of about 500 people by the time the store officially opened at 8 a.m.
The early birds participated in the opening ceremony, then headed into the 177,000-square-foot store that was years in the making and is redefining the corner of State and Michigan just east of Saline into a retail hub.
Related:Â First impressions of Saline's WalmartStore manager Karen Boyer led the opening festivities, which took place in the front of the store.
The ceremony fit the Walmart pattern with plenty of local touches: The Saline Middle School choir sang the National Anthem and an invocation was given by Lou Velker, who works at the Washtenaw Christian Academy, located across Michigan Avenue from the store and one recipient of Walmart $20,000 in local corporate donation.
Vendors were in the store until late last night, stocking the shelves in the 30 different departments that comprise the Supercenter version of the world’s biggest retailer.
Beverly Dootz of Ann Arbor arrived at 7 a.m. and stood outside until they opened the doors to let people in for the presentation.
She came for the excitement of the grand opening.
“It’s kind of like when people go Christmas shopping to look for that special toy,” she said. “It’s the excitement of being out there with the crowd. I came just for the fun of it.”
Wednesday is her day off, so she planned to shop after the grand opening, “for nothing in particular.”
She likes the prices and variety, but infrequently goes to Walmart - making just a couple of visits in Florida and one to the Ypsilanti Township store.Jamie Hughes joined the crowd at 7:45. He’s a regular Ypsilanti Township store shopper, but now plans to shift to the Saline area store because of the grocery section.
“They have the whole, complete store,” he said. “Now I can get everything in one spot.”
He’s also a longtime Walmart fan.
“I’m from Tennessee and Walmart was the only store I knew before I came to Michigan,” he said.
That was in 1983. As stores were built in the region, he’d travel to the closest.
“I always come back to Walmart,” Hughes said.
Larry Osterling, president of the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce, gave a welcoming comment at the ceremony. He noted that this is the Saline area’s first experience with a large chain.
“Having this type of store is inevitable,” he said. “We need to work together to have a positive relationship.”
Bob Kwiecinski, vice commander of the Saline American Legion Post 322, joined other members of his group on stage.
He said he’s impressed with Walmart so far because both the U.S. and Michigan flags are displayed at both entrances.
“I’m very impressed right off the bat,” he said. “They are headed in the right direction to do the right thing.”