Just in time for the busiest shopping season of the year, the nation’s largest retailer opened its first two District of Columbia stores Wednesday morning, ending months of waiting for those looking for not only more shopping options, but also jobs. Walmart’s first two D.C. stores are located at 99 H Street NW and 5929 Georgia Ave. NW. Much like their suburban counterparts, these big box stores will offer everything from produce to clothing to electronics. They are in neighborhoods where retail options are somewhat scarce.
“I’m so happy to see this,” says Northwest resident and shopper Dorothy Mays. “I’m so glad that I don’t have to go way across town or go downtown to get something that I really need.” Each store also created 300 new jobs in the city, as Walmart plans to open six stores total in the District and employ a total of 1,800 workers. Despite recent protests over how much Walmart pays its employees, the retailer says it pays either at or above its competitors’ wages and offers something more: the chance to move up.
“We’ve had associates that come in at a cashier entry level,” says Walmart manager Eric Quist. “They are now assistant managers or managers today.” The stores almost never came to pass after a row between city politicians and Walmart management over employee pay. The chain threatened to pull its six planned stores from the city if Mayor Vincent Gray approved a bill that would have forced the store to pay its employees $12.50 per hour.