Sherwood and Tigard Walmarts open same day.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Hollis Bascom moves a pallet of boxes at the new Walmart supercenter on Southwest Dartmouth Street in Tigard. Both the Tigard store and the larger Sherwood supercenter will open at 7:30 a.m., Aug. 13.This time next month, Southwest Washington County will be home to not one but two Walmart supercenters.

The world’s largest retailer announced this week that its new stores in Tigard and Sherwood would have their grand openings Wednesday, Aug. 13, with ribbon cuttings and plenty of pomp and circumstance.

Crews have been constructing the buildings for months, as well as a months-long road construction project in Tigard, widening Pacific Highway, 72nd Avenue and Highway 217 in spots to accommodate the expected influx of traffic.

Sherwood’s superstore is larger, offering both a garden center and drive-through pharmacy as well as a Subway restaurant located just inside the store’s lobby.

Customers will be able to order items online and have them shipped to the store for free for pickup, said Tigard’s general manager Dion Hess.

Hess, 51, has been a Walmart employee for 12 years, most recently as manager of the company’s supercenter in East Vancouver, Wash.

Tigard’s 137,000-square-foot store doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but Hess said his store will fill a need in the city.

“We are looking at places where we can better serve our customers,” Hess said. “I have family in Hillsboro and he has to drive to Woodburn to shop. Now, he can come here.”

Scot Gavic, Sherwood store manager said his 149,000-square-foot store would be a helpful community partner. The store has stepped up to sponsor several summer events in Sherwood, including Cruisin’ Sherwood, the Robin Hood Festival and Music on the Green. The store also donated $12,000 in school supplies to the Sherwood School District.

“This is going to be a wonderful store,” said Gavic. “I’m really impressed with the people of this town.”

The two stores are in the process of wrapping up the hiring of about 300 employees each.

“Most of them are full time,” said Gavic. Walmart officials said the average wage of regular, full-time, hourly employees at its supercenters, discount stores and neighborhood markets is $13.44 an hour. Part-time wage information was not available.

For 14 years, Walmart employee Melissa Starr has driven from her home in Tigard to the Walmart store at 82nd Avenue and Holgate in East Portland. She said she has been waiting for years for a store to open closer to home.

“When I was in Portland, we got a lot of customers asking us, ‘When are you going to get one on my side of town?’” she said. “I’m glad we have one in Tigard. I like it as a customer, because now I can come here and shop.”

Until the new stores were announced, Walmart shoppers had to drive to Woodburn or Cornelius to shop.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Boxes of products are delivered to the new Sherwood and Tigard Walmarts every day, said Dion Hess, general manager of the Tigard store.

Walmart faces continued opposition

Not everyone is excited about the stores. Both Sherwood and Tigard Walmarts have seen their share of opposition. Residents circulated online petitions and flooded city council meetings and town halls in both cities for months in an attempt to keep the business from setting up shop.

Opponents said the stores would hurt the local economy and voiced concerns about increased crime in the areas.

The group Tigard First! has pledged to picket the store its opening week, planning what it calls a “Race to the Bottom” fun run and community picket from Liberty Park on Main Street to the supercenter a mile away.

“We may not have been able to stop Walmart from building a superstore in Tigard, but we can be there on their opening weekend to educate the public about why they shouldn’t shop at Walmart, and we can show Walmart that we don’t want them there!” organization members posted on the group’s Facebook page.

City planners in Tigard said there was little they could do to stop the store from locating in town and told residents to vote with their checkbook and not shop there, if they didn’t support the store.

Local products a must

Hess and Gavic said the stores will stock a selection of locally made products, such as Stash Tea on Southwest Durham Road in Tigard or D. & G. Bait Inc., based in Clackamas.

“I’m a big fisherman, but I couldn’t buy my favorite bait at my own store,” Hess said. “We want to support the local businesses as much as we can.”

Hess said there is plenty of room for local products.

“It would be hard to accommodate the farmer down the road that sells at the farmers market,” Hess said, but he is willing to go with a local company, if possible.

Local products are important to have, Hess said, because they are what customers want.

As store manager in Vancouver, Hess said he started selling Mary Hill wineries in Goldendale, Wash.

“In the two weeks during the holiday season, one of their bottles of wine was my No. 1 selling alcoholic beverage,” Hess said. “We sold more of that than we did Coors Light, and that’s a lot. So even though they are smaller, we have the ability to really help them and grow their business.”

Gavic said five semi-trailer truckloads of merchandise were unloaded on Tuesday of last week, with more coming to fill the store with merchandise in time for its August unveiling.

It will take weeks to get the thousands of items onto store shelves, Hess said, with trucks arriving every day.

“We open Aug. 13 at 7:30 a.m., and the last stuff will go on the shelves probably at 7:29. Everything will be put up right to the last minute,” Hess said.

Sherwood reporter Ray Pitz contributed to this article.

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