Wal-Mart's new Neighborhood Market stores are coming soon to the Sacramento region, bringing even more competition for mainstream grocers already seeking concessions from union workers.
Wal-Mart said Tuesday it has opened hiring centers for five Neighborhood Market stores – in Sacramento, Granite Bay, Lincoln, Stockton and Modesto – all scheduled to open in September. Altogether, they'll employ 355.
Neighborhood Market is Wal-Mart's small-format, groceries-only chain. Started in 1998, the stores typically are around 40,000 square feet.
Wal-Mart's continued expansion in the region presents additional challenges for long-established grocers like West Sacramento-based Raley's. Raley's officials say they need lower labor costs to regain market share lost in recent years to nonunion stores such as Walmart, Target and Fresh & Easy.
The same is true for Modesto-based Save Mart Supermarkets and Pleasanton-based Safeway, who, like Raley's, have been locked in prolonged negotiations with the United Food and Commercial Workers union.
The UFCW has said it recognizes the grocers' problems but has not been willing to give in on key concessions.
Wal-Mart says it is simply reacting to customer feedback with its regional, five-store blitz.
"We're always looking for opportunities to improve access to our stores that are more convenient for our local customers," said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Amelia McLear. "We believe that the Neighborhood Markets will be a part of the solution when it comes to creating jobs and improving access to affordable groceries.
"In addition, these new store locations will create additional economic opportunity for surrounding businesses, particularly those that have been impacted by the loss of an anchor tenant."
McLear noted that all five of the new Neighborhood Market sites are going into existing, vacant space.
The Sacramento Neighborhood Market at 2700 Marconi Ave., for example, was once home to children's specialty store Goore's. Prior to 1999, a Lucky market operated there.
Wal-Mart's temporary hiring centers are accepting applications Monday through Friday. Interested applicants also can apply online at http://careers.walmart.com.
Here are details for the hiring centers and new store sites:
Hiring center at 2804 Marconi Ave., Sacramento, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., for store at 2700 Marconi Ave.
Hiring center at 4060 Douglas Blvd., suites 107 and 108, Granite Bay, open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., for store at Douglas and Sierra College boulevards.
Hiring center 731 Sterling Parkway, Lincoln, open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., for store at 65th and Third streets.
Hiring center at 3008 E. Hammer Lane, suite 116, Stockton, open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., for store at 1189 E. March Lane.
Hiring center at 1221 E. Orangeburg Ave., suite 7, Modesto, open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., for store at 1421 Coffee Road.