D.C. Walmarts open on Georgia Avenue, H Street

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Excitement and energy filled the brand new Walmart stores on Georgia Avenue and H Street NW Wednesday morning. They're the first two of what will eventually be six Walmarts in the District of Columbia.

Huge crowds watched as the ribbons were cut at the new stores, and shoppers had plenty of good things to say:

"It's convenient by Metro, so that's a good thing," says Ricardo Moore.

At the one on Georgia Avenue, Vonciel Mitchell was one of the first shoppers to walk through the doors. The store is just down the street from where she lives.

"I've went as far as Aberdeen, Maryland for Walmart items," she says.

And that’s why there are so many appreciative shoppers, who are glad to finally have big-box shopping options in their neighborhoods.

"I don't have to go out to the suburbs to shop, and I can park my car and they have groceries," says Ellen Walker.

However, not everyone is happy to see this big retail mecca move in next door.

"Nobody cared for our opinion -- we are a small business, we don't count," says Usman Qureshi. He and his family have been operating this dollar store across the street for nearly 15 years. He isn't worried about the competition Walmart brings as much as the inconvenience it poses for his customers:

"Parking is the main issue. they took out the meters yesterday and there's no place for our customers to park. There were no notices or anything."

There was a time when some weren't sure if Walmart would stay because of a debate over higher minimum wages. However, Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed what was dubbed the Walmart Bill.

Now six stores are planned for the city, each brining hundreds of jobs. Twenty- three thousand people applied for jobs at the two new stores, nearly 800 were hired.

Of the 300 employees at Georgia Avenue store, 16 have been promoted just in three months preparing for the opening. Sixty-eight percent of those hired live in D.C.

Not everyone in the city is happy to see the rollout of the largest retailer.

"They over-compete with businesses in a two miles radius driving small business out," explained Andrea Rosen, D.C. resident. "I think they are just carpeting the landscape of the city."

Four more Walmart stores - located at Capitol Gateway, New York Avenue, Skyland Town Center and Fort Totten - are also in the works.

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