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Cottage Grove Walmart opens its doors

Cottage Grove Walmart Store Manager Reid Charpentier stands with Mayor Myron Bailey and City Council member Jen Peterson Wednesday as he cuts the ribbon. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)2 / 10
The nearly 300 employees of the new Walmart Supercenter in Cottage Grove sport specialty grand opening T-shirts Wednesday during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)3 / 10
Hundreds gather to watch Walmart Store Manager Reid Charpentier cut the ribbon Wednesday. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)4 / 10
Store Manager Reid Charpentier stands with several employees Wednesday during the grand opening of the 177,000-square-foot Walmart. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)5 / 10
Friends In Need Food Shelf Director Michelle Rageth accepts a check for $2,500 from Walmart Store Manager Reid Charpentier Wednesday during the grand opening event in Cottage Grove. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)6 / 10
Cottage Grove Public Safety Director Craig Woolery, right, stands with officer Mike McCormick , far left, and Deputy Fire Chief PJ McMahon, and accepts a $2,500 check from Walmart. Woolery said the money will be used to outfit an apartment complex with fire extinguishers. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)7 / 10
Walmart employees, and husband and wife, Reba and Ken Pavek, of Cottage Grove, walk the aisles of the new Walmart in Cottage Grove Wednesday shortly after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)8 / 10
Cottage Grove resident Jim Hunstad scans the DVD section at the new Walmart. Hunstad said he simply wanted to be one of the first to enter the store Wednesday. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)9 / 10
Walmart employee Glenn F., who is new to the company, speaks with a customer Wednesday about cellphone's the store offers. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)10 / 10

Hundreds gathered bright and early Wednesday to participate in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Walmart Supercenter in Cottage Grove, an event that has been touted as one of the most anticipated businesses openings in the city’s history.

With a staff of nearly 300, more than half of which are Cottage Grove residents, Store Manager Ried Charpentier got misty eyed as he introduced and thanked his employees.

“We have put in so many hours leading up to this opening and I could not have done it without this amazing team,” he said.

Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey shared his excitement for the grand opening and applauded the store for putting many of the city’s residents to work.

The 177,000-square-foot Walmart is built on the former Cottage View Drive-In site and is expected to anchor the proposed 80-acre Shoppes at Cottage View retail center.

From groundbreaking to opening day, the construction period spanned roughly 10 months.

A handful of shoppers lined up outside the store prior to its 8 a.m. opening, and Hammond, Wis., resident Dave Brown was first in line.

“We got here at 6:58 a.m.,” said his daughter, Christina, an employee of the Cottage Grove store.

Brown was shopping for specialty gun shells, an item he said is hard to find.

Members of the neighboring VFW Red Barn’s color guard were on hand to help raise the flag outside the store, but a frozen flagpole lock prevented the flag from being raised.

“We tried deicing it and thought with the warmer weather it would be thawed,” Charpentier said. “We’ll get it raised.”

Cottage Grove Strawberry Fest representatives were also in attendance.

Charpentier, on behalf of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., donated $2,500 to both the Friends In Need Food Shelf and the Cottage Grove Public Safety Department.

Michelle Rageth, director of Friends In Need, said the donation helps keep the organization helping families. Public Safety Director Craig Woolery said the money will be used to outfit an apartment complex with adequate fire extinguishers.

Cottage Grove residents and employees Reba and Ken Pavek said they are excited to be able to work and shop locally.

“We were going to the Hastings store a lot so it will be nice to be able to stay in town,” Ken said.

The store is open 24 hours and offers shoppers both grocery and retail, as well as a Subway, nail salon, liquor store, garden center, one-hour photo and a pharmacy.

Walmart is located at 9300 East Point Douglas Road.