NORTH SMITHFIELD - Walmart will close its Woonsocket store on Diamond Hill Road on Tuesday, Sept. 13, one day before the retail giant opens its larger store in North Smithfield at Dowling Village, about five miles away.
Walmart took formal possession of the North Smithfield building at Dowling Village on Aug. 8. The new store, located at 7 Eddie Dowling Highway, plans to open to shoppers at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 14.
With construction on the new store finished, the retailer will spend the next five weeks transforming the empty building into a Walmart superstore complete with a full line of groceries and a wide assortment of merchandise and services.
The new 24-hour â€śsupercenterâ€ť in North Smithfield will be about 200,000 square feet, stock everything a Walmart discount store does, and feature a full service supermarket that includes a meat section, deli, produce, bakery and frozen foods.
"We can't wait to open and offer Walmart's unbeatable prices and a convenient shopping option for our community," said store manager Dan Busha, who is overseeing the work at the store.
Busha has been employed by Walmart for the past six years, starting out as an hourly associate loading trucks at the Walmart store in Putnam, Connecticut. He was store manager for the Walmart in Hooksett, N.H. before taking the helm at the new North Smithfield store.
Upon its opening, the store plans to employ approximately 300 associates. Many of the newly-hired associates â€” about 100 so far â€” are now reporting to work to help prepare the store for its grand opening.
"We've been busy putting up general fittings and getting our merchandise and products in," said Shift Manager Cindy Gamache, adding the store is recieving upwards of 10,000 pieces of new product a day.
There are about 100 workers at the new site, including new hires and employees from the Walmart home office and surrounding stores.
"We're trying to get ready so that we're good to go on Sept. 14," said Gamache, a Woonsocket native and 17-year Walmart employee, who helped open the Woonsocket store in 1994.
Walmart spokesman Christopher N. Buchanan said earlier this week that the retailer had not yet determined when it would close the 82,000-square-foot Woonsocket store, saying the site was still currently under discussion while the North Smithfield store was being constructed.
But Gamache confirmed Friday that the Woonsocket store will close at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 13.
Early this year, Buchanan said Walmart employees from the Woonsocket store would have the option of working in North Smithfield.
Woonsocket officials have estimated that the city could lose $300,000 a year in property taxes once Walmart - the city's seventh largest taxpayer - closes the Diamond Hill Road store.
As recently as last month, Woonsocket Economic Development Director Matthew Wojcik said he had had no contact with Walmart for over a year, since city officials attempted to persuade the company to operate stores in Dowling Village and the city simultaneously, arguing that the two would serve different markets. Wal-mart refused, confirming that it would eventually shut down the East Woonsocket store.
Dowling Village, a 133-acre, $85 million mixed-use development, is located on Route 146A on the Woonsocket city line. Phase One of Dowling Village was completed with the opening of an 18,000-square-foot CVS pharmacy in 2008. The North Smithfield Planning Board approved the master plan for the remaining three phases of the massive shopping complex in November of 2009. Town officials had always speculated that a Super Walmart and Lowe's home improvement store would occupy the two largest buildings on the Dowling Village property.
In the meantime,Walmart continues to hire both full- time and part-time associates to work in all areas of the new store. Gamache said interested applicants can apply online at www.walmartstores.com or at any surrounding Walmart store.