EAST MANATEE -- Early Wednesday morning, a couple driving through the parking lot of the soon-to-open Wal-mart on State Route 70 and Interstate 75, stopped to ask, "Do you know when it will open?"
For many residents living in East Manatee, the opening of the new 154,000-square-foot store can't come soon enough.
Though there are two Wal-mart stores located within five miles north and west of the new location, several thousands shoppers are expected to visit the store per day. Walmart, an Arkansas-based company, has more than 10,000 retail stores in 27 countries, according to its website.
"We can reach as far as Myakka City," said Glen Goodfellow, store manager of the new store here.
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Over the last three weeks, a non-stop rotation of staff has been working 24 hours, six days a week to stock the store. The store will officially open April 11, but will have an event each day for five days to celebrate the opening. There will be giveaways from vendors and face-painting for children.
"I kind of see it as a diverse business," Goodfellow said. "We'll still attract young clientele. I can see the store being a destination coming off I-75. It has quick access for them before they head home. It's a very family-oriented area."
The store will include a Subway fast food restaurant, drive-through pharmacy, hair salon, vision center, a counter located in the front of the store where guests can pick up orders they made online and even refrigerated pet food.
Goodfellow is hoping to have a staff of 300 employees. The store currently has 210 employees and 100 were busy stocking shelves and loading products Wednesday morning.
With so many unemployed in the county, Goodfellow said a wide variety of people have applied to work at his store.
"With today's economy, you have the luxury of looking at what people have done," he said. "You're able to pick people that wouldn't normally apply for this job. They have very different backgrounds."
One employee is a personal trainer, Goodfellow said.
"You need someone who is motivated and knows how to motivate," he said.
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Tweet:@_1NickWilliams