Hundreds of Patterson residents — and folks from throughout the area — gathered in the cold Wednesday morning for the opening of the newest Wal-Mart. The discount superstore opened at 1030 Sperry Ave.
Patterson High School's band played, local veterans conducted a flag ceremony, and officials from Wal-Mart and local government offered welcoming remarks. Patterson Mayor Luis Molina likened the environment to "a playoff game, or the Super Bowl."
Residents of Patterson have for the most part welcomed the retail giant with open arms; a public meeting to discuss the possibility of Wal-Mart building in town drew comments in favor by a wide margin. Other communities, including Ceres and Turlock, haven't been so welcoming — Turlock passed a law against supercenters and Ceres residents took their fight to court.
But Ceres and Turlock, unlike Patterson, already have Wal-Marts, and the West Side city is eager for the discounted prices and the jobs the store brings. Store manager Troy McMahan said Patterson residents filled 300 of the 335 jobs at the store.
"This brings options to our community," Molina said. "This will keep tax dollars local, keep people off the roads and save them gas money."
Patterson resident Erlinda Keithahn, who said she shops at Wal-Mart at least once a week, is eager for those savings.
"We used to go to Modesto and Turlock, and once in a blue moon, Los Banos," she said. "Now I won't have to wait until I am off of work or anything."
The 160,000-square-foot store includes a grocery department, complete with bakery and deli, as well as electronics, lawn and garden, sporting goods and pharmacy. An optometrist and hair salon also occupy space inside Wal-Mart.
McMahon, who is opening his fourth Wal-Mart, said the reception from the community has been "absolutely incredible. They have real ownership in this store."
Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2343. Follow her on Twitter, @pattyguerra.