Giant opens store in Walnutport
Deb Flanagan of Cherryville picks out corn on the cob in the produce section. Visit www.tnonline.com for a video. TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS
Stephanie Grube of Danielsville, feeds a sample of food from the bakery department to her 3-year-old daughter, Hannie Grube. TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS
Orlando Zaya of Palmerton proudly receives his free Giant reusable shopping bag and during the grand opening of Giant Food Stores in Walnutport Friday morning. Visit www.tnonline.com for a video. TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS
Ann Marie DeMarcantonio of Lehighton picks up a pack of hamburger from the meat department. TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS
Carmen Torres of Danielsville looks over her options at the Beer & Wine Eatery. TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS
Lee Fehnel of Danielsville loads up his shopping cart after paying at the checkout line. TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS
Customers anxious to get first dibs lined the parking lot for the grand opening of the new Giant Food Stores in Walnutport Friday morning.
Such was the excitement to shop at a store all their own that Orlando Zaya made it a point to arrive at 5:30 a.m., which made him the first person in line.
The store opened amid much fanfare, as the first 200 customers in line received a free Giant reusable shopping bag and other grand opening giveaways.
“I came for the shopping,” Zaya said. “I will be here all the time with my wife.”
Chris Brand, director, External Communications and Community Relations, Giant Food Stores, welcomed the crowd gathered outside the new 55,000-square-foot store located at 300 S. Best Ave.
“The store looks terrific,” Brand said. “So proud of all of our associates who put together this store.”
Nicholas Bertram, president of Giant Food Stores, credited the area for being a feasible location for the store.
“It’s an absolutely beautiful place to live,” Bertram said. “This would not happen without the incredible leadership.”
Walnutport Borough Councilwoman Jennifer Wentz said she was extremely excited to welcome customers to the store.
“It’s a beautiful store,” Wentz said. “There’s a lot that’s unique and different.”
Steve Bowlby, store manager, said the opening of the store was a total team effort.
“It took a lot of people to help get this store to where it is,” Bowlby said. “We’re here for you guys.”
Inside the store, shoppers appeared to be more than satisfied with the bevy of offerings at their disposal.
“I came to see what bargains they had,” said Ann Marie DeMarcantonio, of Lehighton. “I needed meat, so I got hamburger and chops.”
Like many, Lori Drozd of Danielsville, said they are grateful Giant now has a presence nearby.
“I was dying for it to open,” Drozd said. “I don’t have to travel so far, this is right down the street.”
Ditto for Carmen Torres of Danielsville.
“I had to travel to Lehighton or to Northampton,” Torres said. “I love it.”
For Robert Malick of Walnutport, the store couldn’t have opened soon enough.
“I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Malick said. “It looks great.”
Jerry Robertson of Palmerton said he was looking for buy one get one free deals.
“I like it,” Robertson said. “It’s going to cut out a lot of traveling time.”
The store is open from 6 a.m. to midnight seven days a week, and is expected to bring about 200 full and part-time jobs to the Walnutport community.
To help celebrate its opening, Giant on Thursday made $1,000 donations to Diamond Fire Company, Northern Lehigh Food Bank, Northern Lehigh School District, Walnutport Police Department and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The store features a farm fresh produce department that has over 350 items; a full-service deli; full-service meat and seafood; a full-service bakery; and full-service floral.
The store also features a Beer & Wine Eatery with more than 300 varieties of both national and local brand beer and wine in addition to fresh-made far including meal combos, sandwiches, wraps, subs, sushi and salads.
The eatery seats 30 and will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday.
The store also includes a Giant fuel station, where for every $100 spent on groceries using a BonusCard, customers receive 10 cents off per gallon of gas when they fill up as part of Gas Extra Rewards. Six pumps are available.
Customers can choose to visit in-store, or order their groceries online for curbside pickup with Giant Direct at peapod.com.
The store also offers catering options. Customers can call 888-442-6812, place an order at the store, or simply order online at giantfoodstores.com.
The store is also assigned a feeding agency partner to receive weekly food donations through the company’s food rescue program, including its acclaimed “Meat the Needs” initiative.
The opening of the store is part of a $70 million capital investment the company announced last year to grow its store network.
Giant replaces the former Pathmark store.
In July 2015, grocery store chain A&P, which also operates Pathmark and Super Fresh stores in the area, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and planned to close or sell off stores. Twenty-five stores closed, including the one in Walnutport.
The building previously housed a Super Fresh supermarket, and before that, a Kmart.
A Giant food store has been located in the Carbon Plaza Mall in Lehighton since 2001. Last year, it became Carbon County’s first supermarket to sell beer and wine.