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H Street Wal-Mart Ready for D.C. Debut

From deep fryers costing less than $30 to jumbo packs of discount diapers, H Street Northwest’s newest retailer is ready for its Wednesday opening.

The automatic doors of Wal-Mart’s new location, about two blocks from Union Station, are scheduled to slide open Wednesday morning, after a brief 7:30 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Inside the 74,000-square-foot supercenter, shoppers will find a full line of groceries, including fresh produce, a bakery and a full-service deli, merchandise ranging from iPhones to pet supplies, and a pharmacy. Customers can cash checks, purchase money orders and even buy hunting and fishing licenses.

There’s also an aisle of wine and refrigerated beer. A 12-pack of National Bohemian, for instance, costs $8.28.

“Your one-stop shopping space,” store manager Eric Quist told reporters during a sneak peek tour Tuesday.

Displays were stocked to suit the holiday season. A variety of gingerbread house models, priced at $8.97, sat below a sign reading “More Christmas for your money,” and the ladies apparel section featured racks of festive sweater vests and candy-cane-embroidered sweaters.

Decked out in red, blue and silver balloons, the supercenter is set to serve customers from 6 a.m. to midnight, seven days per week. About 190 parking spaces are available, and the garage includes a conduit for electric vehicles. The store is also funding a Capital Bikeshare dock.

A staff of about 300 full-time and part-time workers — about 70 percent of whom are D.C. residents — stands at the ready. None of the positions are seasonal.

Quist said employees will be paid more than the city’s $8.25 minimum wage but did not specify a dollar amount. It will be a “competitive wage,” he said, declining to comment on the living wage fight involving Mayor Vincent Gray and the D.C. Council. Councilmembers unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that would boost the minimum wage to $11.50 per hour.

Sales associates in their final day of training sounded like an eager army.

When Quist called out, “How y’all feel?” they chanted back, “Fired up!”

The drill continued with Quist asking what his employees, who were busy stocking shelves and checking prices, aimed to be.

“Accident-free, neat, clean and friendly,” they obediently responded.

“Thank you for all that you do,” Quist said.

Smiling employees yelled back, “Our privilege!”

In addition to the H Street Wal-Mart, a 105,000-square-foot store opens at 5929 Georgia Ave. NW. At least three more area locations are in the works.

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