Estero’s new Wal-Mart benefits community and FGCU students
Soon after the sun rose Wednesday morning, Estero citizens got out of their cars, wallets in tow, forming a crowd on the corner of US 41 and Estero Parkway. No, they weren’t camping out for concert tickets or purchasing the latest iPhone. They were witnessing the ceremonial ribbon cutting of southern Lee County’s first Wal-Mart.
The first Wal-Mart supermarket in Estero is open today.
“Last year, the nearest one was far away, and I realized it was almost inconvenient to travel to,” said Jenna Lex, an FGCU sophomore. “[It] being so close to FGCU will be extremely beneficial for everyone.”
Brooks McGhee, the store manager, addressed the crowd first, thanking partners such as Dress for Success and FGCU for their support in the creation of the department chain’s newest Southwest Florida location. After the National Anthem, McGhee discussed what makes this Wal-Mart so special to the community.
“With the items that we have to offer, over 100,000 in stores and access to over 2 million items on walmart.com, that’ll be huge for the one-stop shop in Estero as well as south Fort Myers,” Mcghee said.
Mayor Nick Batos of Estero gave a small speech discussing the growth of the village, how residents collectively acknowledge and appreciate the store and what it will do to the community.
In addition to city officials, members of the San Carlos Park Fire Department were there to witness Estero history.
The management team of Wal-Mart donated more than $8,000 to local charities and organizations such as the Harry Chapin Food Bank, Goodwill Industries, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Dress for Success and the local Rotary Club.
Throughout the day, not only did the store have an abundance of discounted foods and goods for local shoppers, it had face painting and balloon animals to occupy the kids as their parents shopped.
Both FGCU students and residents of southern Lee County are excited for the convenience of a Wal-Mart so close by.
“It’s a good location for me,” said Pamela Szymanski, a Fort Myers resident. “It’s on the way to most of the places I’m going to.”
While Holden Worrell, an FGCU junior, is excited about the new location, he’ll miss his weekly trek to the previously closest Wal-Mart with his friends.
“I’m used to going to Wal-Mart at 3 a.m. with my friends,” Worrell said. “It’s going to take away the excitement of adventuring so far just to buy groceries, but it’s going to be cheaper than Target. So, I’m glad that it’s there. It’s so much closer.”
Not only will the new Wal-Mart help college students save money, but it also created more than 400 jobs in Estero.
“At first, it was pretty overwhelming,” McGhee said, regarding the hiring process. “It was a challenge, but with the partnership of FGCU and Dress for Success and other organizations, they sent a lot of applicants our way. So that helped out tremendously.”
Not only is it open 24 hours, but it features a special year-round beach shop, shirts customized to the area with the name “Estero” printed on them as well as FGCU apparel.
From noon to 3 p.m., Aug. 29, residents can enjoy “A Big Family Welcome” at the new location, which will give locals a chance to meet the manager as well as enjoy free family activities and food samples.