TURLOCK -- The new Wal-Mart coming to Turlock will be the company's second Neighborhood Market grocery store to open in the county.
Company spokeswoman Delia Garcia confirmed the news first reported last week that the empty Mervyn's building on Geer Road in Turlock is becoming a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market. The 24-hour grocery store is under construction and should be open late this year.
Garcia said the company expects to hire 65 to 95 associates to staff the store. Hiring will begin in the fall and will be conducted through online applications and an on-site hiring center.
"We continue to look for opportunities to serve customers better, and to reuse vacant space," Garcia said of the new Turlock site. "(It) has been vacant for four years. This makes a positive impact on local businesses. It's a win-win for our customers, Wal-Mart and the community."
A Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market opened in September on Coffee Road in Modesto. The grocery offshoot of the retail giant offers an assortment of fresh and dry goods, produce, meats, dairy, household supplies and pharmacy services.
The Turlock location will be almost twice as large as the Modesto store at 62,000 square feet. The new site also is larger than the average Neighborhood Market store, which run about 40,000 square feet. Garcia said the extra space in Turlock will be used for additional merchandise.
"The focus is fresh groceries, but because of the larger building it will give us an opportunity to have a broader assortment of general merchandise, particularly in the home department," she said. "Things like domestic items, kitchen ware, plates."
Turlock has had a long and sometimes strained relationship with Wal-Mart. The city's one Wal-Mart opened in 1993 on Fulkerth Road. But in 2006, the city spent nearly $400,000 successfully fighting a planned 225,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter off Countryside Drive.
In April 2012, the Turlock Planning Commission approved a permit for a new 24-hour grocery store in the former Mervyn's site, clearing the way for the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market to come in.
Garcia said the city's past history with Wal-Mart was not a factor in developing the new store.
"The driving factor in determining where to locate new stores is customer demand," she said. "We've been serving our customers in Turlock for 20 years. We know they are looking for options for affordable groceries."
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2284. Follow her on Twitter @turlocknow.