‘Black Friday’ arrives early
AHOSKIE – Judging by the number of cars in the parking lot and the throng of people inside, it appeared “Black Friday” arrived early this year in Ahoskie.
With the snip of a red ribbon, a sea of bodies, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, were set free to shop until they dropped here early Wednesday morning upon the opening of Walmart’s new SuperCenter.
“It’s a grand day…it’s a super day,” smiled Ahoskie Walmart manager Nnea Rapu just after joining Marshall Cherry, President of the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, in cutting the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the new 120,000 square foot store located at 2150 Highway 13 South.
When asked just prior to the grand opening if she was able to get any sleep Tuesday night, Rapu replied, “Very little.”
Numerous dignitaries attended Wednesday’s ceremony, including Ahoskie Mayor Brien Lassiter and NC 5th District House Representative Annie Mobley.
“When I got the word that a Super Walmart was coming to Ahoskie, I was just as happy as a kid at Christmas time,” Mobley said. “I knew this would be a boost to our little town and to our economy. We’re excited about this new store.
“I congratulate you and hope your stay here is long, and wish you success, so much to the point that you may see the need to expand,” Mobley added.
“Our town is growing and we hope with this new SuperCenter that Ahoskie will see even more growth,” Lassiter noted. “So many people have asked me what is coming…they said we already have a Walmart and now it’s just another one. Well it is and it isn’t. We had a standard Walmart, now we have a Super Walmart.
“We see Walmart as the anchor,” the Mayor continued. “We have seen in other communities where they have grown in the number of businesses at or near a Walmart SuperCenter. There are a number of possibilities, business-wise, coming to Ahoskie now that this new SuperCenter is open. We’re hoping that it won’t be too long that Ahoskie won’t just be a great town to live in, it will be a super town to live in. We thank Walmart for being here, for investing in our town. “
Wednesday’s grand opening ceremony also included an invocation from the Rev. Wallace Phillips of Carpenter’s Shop Church; the presentation of the colors by members of Hertford County High School JROTC; the National Anthem as performed by Lisa Raynor, manager of the Super Center’s jewelry department; the introduction of the Ahoskie Super Center management team; and a loud “Walmart Cheer” led by Super Center Assistant Manager Eric Dillow.
To demonstrate Walmart’s community spirit, company officials presented several checks to local organizations – the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce, the Ahoskie Rural Fire Department, the Ahoskie Police Department, the Ahoskie Food Pantry, and Hertford County High School.
The Ahoskie Walmart Super Center features a full-sized grocery store, an expanded electronics department that also includes a digital-photo processing center, a pharmacy with a convenient drive-thru, quality, and value-priced general merchandise, including apparel, toys, sporting goods, automotive products, home furnishings, fabric (with a cutting table), hardware, paint, and pet supplies. There is also a lawn and garden center.
There is also a Subway sandwich shop located just inside the main entrance. A spokesperson for the existing Subway in the Ahoskie Commons Shopping Center said that location will remain open.
The new store also brings more jobs. Rapu said the old store, which closed Tuesday night, employed 130 associates. The new store will increase that to 236 employees, working in shifts (the store is open from 7 a.m. until 12 midnight, seven days a week).
As part of their grand opening, the Ahoskie Walmart will host a Big Family Welcome from 12 noon until 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26. That event will give customers a chance to meet Rapu and enjoy fun family activities such as face painting, cupcake decorating and free food samples while supplies last.