First 2 Wal-Mart stores open in DC - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

First 2 Wal-Mart stores open in DC

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On Georgia Avenue NW, it was a store opening that people waited in the cold for.

After three years of debate, legal wrangling and strong arm tactics on both sides, Walmart is finally open for business in the District of Columbia.

"We fought for a long time to make sure that this store would really represent what we want in our ward, " said Ward 4 Councilwoman Muriel Bowser. "A high quality building, fantastic products, and wonderful services."

38 truckloads of merchandise and 1 million pounds of food were brought in for the grand opening weekend.

This store in the Brightwood area, and the one on "H" street near Union Station - will have general merchandise, electronics, toys and pharmacies.

Plus -- groceries, fresh produce, a bakery and a deli.

Shaney Rutledge and Lisa McNair were first in line. They say convenience is a big deal to them.

"It's 5 minutes away", explained Rutledge. "If the kids need anything like pants or anything before school we're right here.. and they can get to school on time!"

McNair is pleased with the fresh produce & food options. "Its cheaper. You dont have to worry about going all over because Walmart got everything you need -- literally like everything you need in one store."

Mayor Vincent Gray said Walmart is keeping its promises: hiring about 800 people, 70% of which are District residents.

September's fight over a wage hike almost scuttled the entire deal until Gray vetoed the City Council's legislation to require $12.50 an hour.

This morning the mayor re-iterated the company's plan for growth.

"These two Walmarts are two of six that will be developed in the District of Columbia, " Gray declared. "And frankly, I'm especially proud that over on the east end of the city, where we have so many food deserts, Walmart will be constructing a new store in Skyland, which is in SE, Ward 7 -- right around the corner from where I live also."

To that, cheers and applause broke out.

Still, a handful of protestors paced outside - decrying Walmart's low wages.

It's too early to say if the Council's latest vote to raise the minimum wage - this time to $11.50 - will re-arrange Walmart's plans.

While the cash registers are ringing, that fight.. is just beginning.

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