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Wednesday, Feb 19 2014 04:53 PM

Oildale Walmart will focus on groceries

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    By Californian file photo

    Shoppers bustle in and out of the Walmart on Rosedale Highway in this 2011 photo.

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BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox@bakersfield.com

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to open a new store in Oildale later this year that, unlike the company's traditional model, will focus on grocery sales.

Already under construction at the intersection of North Chester and West Day avenues, the planned Walmart Neighborhood Market will be just 41,000 square feet -- a quarter the size of a standard Walmart.

Spokeswoman Rachel Wall said the store will offer fresh produce, meats, dairy products, and frozen and dry goods, as well as a deli, bakery and pharmacy. Although it will also sell household supplies and health and wellness products, it won't offer a wide array of clothing, consumer electronics and hardware items like a typical Walmart, she said.

The small grocery model is in line with a store format the company experimented with in the Midwest starting in 1998. There are now about 300 such stores across the country, including one in Fresno County.

The Oildale location will be the first Walmart Neighborhood Market in Kern County, and the fifth Walmart in Bakersfield.

Walmart has proposed to build stores in Tehachapi, Wasco and another just outside Bakersfield along Olive Drive. No construction schedules have been released for any of those.

A company news release issued Wednesday said a temporary hiring center is expected to open this summer near the store to screen applicants for the store's roughly 65 employees, some of whom will be supervisors.

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