NORTH ADAMS -- When the Walmart Supercenter opens on May 8, nine of its longest-serving employees will be there to cut the ceremonial ribbon and welcome customers into the new location.
For those employees, the opening of the 155,000-square-foot store will also mark an approaching milestone -- 20 years of employment with the company, beginning in 1993 when Walmart first opened a store in the city.
"It's really exciting for our customers and for us," Mary Gelinas, an invoice associate, said Friday. "A lot of our customers say they're looking forward to being able to do all their shopping in one spot."
Gelinas was interviewed at the new 1415 Curran Highway store last week, along with associates Sheryl Sumner, Lori Cote and Carol Filiault, who have all been working at the store since 1993. The four were also part of the June 2012 groundbreaking.
"My 7-year-old grandson asked me if I was going to quit the old Walmart so I could work at the new one," Sumner, a customer service manager, said. "I had to explain to him that everyone was coming to this store. He's really excited about it."
"We're definitely a big family here, so it will be really exciting when everyone else is in this store too. We know our customers can't wait and they're being really patient. There's so many things they can't find at our current store [at 830 Curran Highway], but they've been really understanding about the transition and the fact that we're not restocking that site," Sumner added.
Filiault, who works as a greeter, said she believes customers will be in awe of the store. "It's just so beautiful," she said. "I love it. I think everyone will love it."
Several of the women compared the new store to moving into a new house -- preparing a new home while also packing up and moving the items at the old house.
The Supercenter will not only boast more space, but it will also add new departments, including a produce section, bakery and deli. Other additions include an expanded pharmacy and a new eye care center, along with a 1,390-square-foot Dunkin' Donuts.
"A lot of our customers will be excited to know that our fabric department is back," Gelinas said. "People were really unhappy when it left. I'm excited that we won't have to go to Pittsfield to get fabric."
Sumner said one of the biggest changes for cashiers will be the addition of the grocery department.
"We're learning how to use the scales for produce," she said. "It's a change, but it's a good change. We're also adding self-checkout registers, which will be an interesting addition."
When asked why they've stayed working at Walmart so long, the women answered almost simultaneously, "We love our jobs."
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for May 8 at 7:30 a.m., at which time the Supercenter will officially be open. The company has been actively marketing its current store through its real estate company.