Wal-Mart Supercenter open in Berlin - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Wal-Mart Supercenter open in Berlin

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BERLIN, Vt. - It's a first for Vermont -- the opening of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The opening of the new Supercenter at the Berlin Mall Wednesday could have a ripple effect on other area grocery stores. Gerry Hanifin is manager at the Berlin Mall, but is also a single father raising two young kids.  He says every penny counts. "Looking at the prices for the grocery stuff -- it's just unbelievable. It's a significant savings," he said.

Hanifin has managed shopping centers all over the East Coast and he's just accomplished a Vermont-first. He's brought the first Supercenter -- a store he hopes will benefit people like him. "Traffic here in the last couple of weeks as they were getting ready has increased dramatically," he said.

Wednesday marked the grand opening of the Supercenter and customers flooded in. Rachel Brown was among them. "Well, I think it's great that we finally have a real Wal-Mart," she said.

Wal-Mart added more than 30,000 square feet to the store and doubled its workforce,  adding more than 140 jobs." It was a tough process but it's been well worth it," said Hanifin.

Just a couple of miles down the road, Kari Bradley is the general manager of Hunger Mountain Co-Op. He says the Supercenter's opening has the potential to impact other stores in the area. "It definitely has our attention. It's a new competitor in Central Vermont, and that's not something we've had at all recently," he said.

Hunger Mountain offers a variety of organic products, but Bradley says it fights for many of the same customers as Wal-Mart. "We have to be competitive on price, but we also have to do a good job explaining how we're different in what we do," said Bradley.

One difference -- nearly 33 percent of the co-op's sales come from local Vermont products. "That's something that Wal-Mart is really not going to be able to get into," said Bradley.

But Hanifin says he's confident a Wal-Mart Supercenter will help cash-strapped shoppers and help the Berlin mall attract fresh faces.
"This expansion is going to be a great bonus for us in trying to bring in new stores as well," said Hanifin.

Another difference between Wal-Mart and the Hunger Mountain Co-Op is that the Co-Op is locally owned, meaning 7,000 central Vermonters have a share of the business.

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