art grocery opens

The first of five Walmart Neighborhood Markets opens today on Wichita's west side.

The 35,000-square-foot grocery-only store — essentially the same grocery footprint as a Walmart Supercenter — is the Arkansas-based retail giant's first venture into the smaller stores in Wichita. Stores that size have been in other states and countries since 1998.

"It's a standard old-time grocery store, your local neighborhood grocery store," said store manager Deiedra Clark.

The 24-hour store's grand opening kicks off at 7:30 this morning with a variety of activities, including representatives of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, presentation of the colors by Wichita Northwest High School, and singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by the Bishop Carroll choir. The store is at 10550 W. Central, on the northwest corner of Central and Maize.

On Tuesday, store associates and vendors were busy fine-tuning store shelves and putting final prices on merchandise displays.

"We don't offer anything different than a supercenter," Clark said. "Same products, same pricing in a smaller format. It's more convenient, quicker to get in and out of."

Four more of the markets are scheduled to open in Wichita by Nov. 2.

"Everybody is all about fast and convenient shopping," she said. "Get in and get out quickly and not have to deal with an assortment of items that you really don't want to purchase."

Clark, who has been with Walmart for 20 years in Wichita and Nebraska, is a Wichita native. She attended Bishop Carroll.

Katy Smith will be the store's pharmacist.

Market manager Mike Overton said money services will be available at customer service, where shoppers also can pick up non-grocery online purchases at the store from

In addition to the grand-opening ceremonies, Walmart will present grants totaling $9,000 to local groups, including the Levy Special Education School, Wilbur Middle School, Dodge Literacy Magnet School, Sedgwick County EMS, Wichita Children's Home, Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office and Wichita Dress for Success.

Customers can take part in an outdoor carnival, with free samples and coupons sponsored by Pepsi.