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Saturday, April 17, 2021

When the Wal-Mart Supercenter opened its doors last week, it brought more than convenient shopping to East Gainesville.

The 24-hour store, located at 1800 NE 12th Ave., is playing a role in community redevelopment.

About 440 jobs were created from the new 206,000-square-foot store, said Gene Gessler, store manager.

It's the first Wal-Mart Supercenter in Alachua County.

"The sales have exceeded our expectations," Gessler said Sunday. "The community is excited we are here. It has been very exciting to be a part of the first five days."

Rob Groeb, candidate for county judge, has been involved in the effort to bring a Wal-Mart Supercenter to Gainesville for about four years. Groeb said he hopes the opening of the store will stimulate economic growth, development, retail and housing in East Gainesville.

The Wal-Mart Supercenter has already donated $18,000 in grants to organizations such as the Gainesville Boys & Girls Club, Gessler said during last Wednesday's opening ceremony.

Current community projects the store is involved with include Relay For Life, which will be held in Northeast Gainesville starting Friday, said Dorris Edwards, the store's personnel director.

Wal-Mart has entered a team, Wal-Mart and Community, to camp out all night and join the fight against cancer, Edwards said.

The store is also making efforts to promote environmental sustainability.

"We're looking to save energy and pass those savings on to the customer," said Quenta Vettel, local Wal-Mart spokeswoman.

Vettel said the Wal-Mart saves energy by using skylights that harvest daylight, motion-detecting lights in the refrigerators and freezers and non-chemical cleaners on the concrete floors.

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