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Walmart readies Oak Grove grand opening

Oak Grove’s Walmart moved rapidly toward completion as dozens of new workers stocked shelves in preparation for a grand opening.

Walmart’s “neighborhood markets” are typically 42,000 square feet, but this approximately 63,000-square-foot store, at 15600 S.E. McLoughlin Blvd., will include groceries, a deli, a large produce section and an assortment of general merchandise.

by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Oak Grove Walmart store manager Troy Steele (far right) gets his employees fired up to prepare the 63,000 square feet for a grand opening next week.“With major construction complete, we are headed into the home stretch,” said store manager Troy Steele. “We are proud of our new store and look forward to welcoming members of the community to come visit us.”

Rex Putnam High School students plan to sing the national anthem at Oak Grove Walmart’s grand opening set for 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, hosted by the North Clackamas Chamber of Commerce, with the Oregon City High School JROTC presenting the colors.

Regardless of the various positions taken by neighborhood groups regarding the store, Walmart leaders say they’ve felt a lot of support from the McLoughlin Area Business Alliance and other local groups. They plan to talk with Concord Elementary officials about concerns for the playground next door as soon as school is in session.

“We’ve been trying to get a pulse of what the community is feeling, and the businesses in the area are very supportive, and the people who are walking by are saying they’ve very impressed with the face-lift,” Steele said.

Managers note that the typical Walmart shopper already is looking for cheaper alternatives.

“They’ve looking for something different, and they’re generally pleased with what they see,” said Assistant Manager Wendell Pelham.

In response to concerns that Walmart’s newly raised parking lot gives a fortress-like appearance on McLoughlin, Walmart points out that Clackamas County approved the company’s building permit for the remodel of an old G.I. Joe’s site. Now the former outdoor store’s parking lot is planted with more than two dozen trees.

Almost 70 of the planned 95 full- and part-time employees have been hired, and several are military veterans. Steele says he’s “had a lot of luck finding people right here” in the Milwaukie area and estimates 75 percent of his employees live in the North Clackamas area.

Pelham discussed the importance of safety and taking care of equipment. Scanners cost more than $3,000, and box cutters always need to be used away from the body.

“The store is coming together,” Steele said. “It will get faster, and it will get easier — it’s just like a puzzle where you’re still trying to figure out where the edge is.”

Walmart also is emphasizing its use of LED lighting. Its goal is to put nothing in a landfill by 2025. Another sustainability aspect of the store features freezers that light up only when sensors detect a shopper.