Pier Park Walmart Grand Opening March 13th

In my sneak peak last week, I showed you the new Pier Park Walmart was getting super close to completion.  They had inventory in stock and staff in place and everyone was charged for the grand opening.  Yesterday the date was announced and they’ll ring in the new location next Wednesday, March 13, right in the middle of one of the biggest spring break weeks in Panama City Beach.

We just talked about the sales floor being about the same size as the “beach” Walmart, and with all the jobs it opened up, it’s sure to be a good economic driver for the area.  And as commented in our previous article, it’s certainly the most aesthetically pleasing Walmart I’ve ever seen.

Press release.

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla., March 7, 2013 – Residents of Panama City Beach are invited to the new Walmart store, which opens on Wednesday, March 13, at U.S. Highway 98 and Powell Adams Road. The grand opening is scheduled for 7:30 a.m., and the store will open to the public immediately following the grand-opening ceremony. Conveniently located at Pier Park, the new store brings approximately 200 new jobs to the area and opportunities for savings for customers. It will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We are delighted to have another Walmart superstore in our city,” said Mayor Gayle Oberst. “The design and location will help it to become a focal point as growth continues on the Panama City Beach Parkway. Walmart has been a great community partner in supporting our library and other aspects of community development and activities in the past and we look forward to years of working together.”

Ribbon-Cutting Celebration at 7:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 13

Community and business leaders will join Walmart associates at 7:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 13, for a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Grand-Opening Events

Customers are encouraged to come to the store on grand-opening day to take advantage of a wide variety of events and promotions. The grand-opening celebration events include product samplings and giveaways from Australian Gold, Borden, Coca-Cola, Vita Coco, Community Coffee, Coppertone, Frito-Lay, Krispy Kreme, Lewis Bear Company, MillerCoors, Nabisco, and character appearances by Elsie the Cow, Cracker Jack and the Oreo Cookie. The Jack Link’s Truck will also be on site. All events are family-friendly, free and open to the public.

“Our associates are enthusiastic and look forward to serving the Panama City Beach community and providing everyday low prices and convenience,” said store manager Jennifer Ross. “We invite local residents to come see their new Supercenter at Pier Park and enjoy product samples and giveaways on grand opening day and throughout the following week.”

Customer Convenience and Wide Product Selection

By combining general merchandise and a full line of groceries in one convenient location, the store offers Panama City Beach shoppers the convenience of one-stop shopping close to home.

The new store features a wide assortment of quality, value priced merchandise, including:

  • Family apparel
  • Health and beauty aids
  • Electronics
  • Toys
  • Lawn and garden items
  • Jewelry
  • Automotive products
  • Home furnishings
  • Hardware
  • Sporting goods
  • Pet supplies
  • Housewares

The grocery area will include a wide selection of fresh produce, including organic products and a gluten-free section. Other features include a full bakery, meat and dairy products, dry goods and staples, beverages, a deli, frozen foods, canned and packaged goods, baking items and household supplies.

The pharmacy will offer a full range of products and services to support the health and wellness of customers and their families. The pharmacy team can answer questions and offer health and wellness solutions. They can also assist customers who wish to transfer their prescriptions to Walmart. The pharmacy is conveniently located at the front of the store next to the Walmart.com services department.

This store features many energy-saving elements, part of Walmart’s overall efforts to reduce the total amount of energy used in stores and other operations. These features include LED lights in signage, freezer cases and the parking lot. This technology uses about 50 percent less energy than traditional lighting.

Community Organizations Benefit from Grand-Opening Grants

Nonprofit organizations will also benefit from the retailer’s ongoing charitable contributions and support for community projects. As part of Walmart’s commitment to the communities in which it operates, over $4,500 in grants from Walmart and the Walmart Foundation will be presented to local organizations at the grand opening. Organizations receiving grants include Covenant Hospice, Inc., Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, Junior League of Panama City, Inc., Panama City Beach Library Foundation, Inc. and Surfside Middle School.

Healthier Food and “Great For You”

Walmart made a major commitment to make food healthier and healthier food more affordable, ensuring families won’t have to choose between a product that is good for them and one they can afford. Steps in the healthier food initiative include:

  • Reformulate thousands of packaged food items by 2015 by reducing sodium and added sugars and removing all remaining industrially produced trans fats.
  • Make healthier choices more affordable by providing savings on fresh produce and reducing the price premium on “better-for-you” items.
  • Provide solutions to address food deserts by bringing stores in underserved communities.
  • Increase charitable support for nutrition programs that help educate consumers about healthier food solutions and choices.

The “Great For You” icon appears on select Great Value and Marketside products as well as fresh and packaged fruits and vegetables. The icon was developed to help customers easily identify nutritious food options so they can make healthier eating choices for themselves and their families. For more information, visit corporate.walmart.com/healthier-food.

Walmart.com Services

Walmart.com services will be available at the store’s entrance. In addition to a digital photo processing lab, the store will also offer two services for customers who shop online. Site-to-Store is a free service that allows customers to ship online orders from http://www.walmart.com free to any Walmart store for pickup. Pick Up Today is a free service that allows customers to order store items online and pick them up at their local Walmart store that same day (or the next day if items are ordered after 6 p.m. local time).

Pay With Cash

All Walmart stores and Walmart Neighborhood Markets participate in the “Pay With Cash” program. This allows customers to order online at Walmart.com and pay for the items with cash at all stores in the U.S. Walmart is the first major retailer to offer online purchases without the need for banking services or a credit, debit or prepaid card.

Economic Impact Includes Approximately 200 New Jobs

The new Panama City Beach Pier Park Walmart will employ approximately 200 associates, according to Ross. The average wage at Walmart for full-time hourly associates in Florida is approximately $12.81 per hour. * Eligible full- and part-time associates at Walmart are able to take advantage of many employment benefits, including a wide variety of health-care plans, 401(k) participation, discounts, membership at Sam’s Club and the opportunity to purchase stock. Nearly 75 percent of the company’s managers began their Walmart careers as hourly associates.

About Walmart

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) helps people around the world save money and live better – anytime and anywhere – in retail stores, online, and through their mobile devices. Each week, more than 200 million customers and members visit our more than 10,600 stores under 69 banners in 27 countries and e-commerce websites in 10 countries. With fiscal year 2012 sales of approximately $444 billion, Walmart employs more than 2.2 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting http://corporate.walmart.com, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/walmartnewsroom. Online merchandise sales are available at http://www.walmart.com and http://www.samsclub.com.

Shoney’s in Pier Park is OPEN and it’s Delicious!

If you’re been looking for a fresh pick for your next breakfast, lunch or dinner, there’s a new kid on the block in Pier Park in West Panama City Beach. Shoney’s in Pier Park opened yesterday with their grand opening to take place next week. Today I had the opportunity to have a sit-down with one of their market leaders for lunch after a conversation with their CEO this morning.

Lunch was delicious, and their cordiality has been second to none. If they run their business half as well as they’ve treated me, they’ll be very successful indeed.

First Impressions.

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Ya know, I have to admit, with what little I knew about Shoney’s, I wasn’t particularly excited about one coming here. It’s not that I was unexcited, there just wasn’t any emotion at all.

But, since this is PCBDaily, and there’s an obligation to report on (if nothing else) something new, I figured I owed it to you; and them. My request for more information was interestingly responded to.

I was first called by the new Marketing Director of Pier Park, who told me someone from Shoney’s would be calling me. The next day I received a call from the Shoney’s Director of Marketing who said he was going to set up a call for me with the CEO. Reassuring him that a conversation with the CEO wasn’t necessary, it was insisted upon.

This morning I was connected with David Davoudpour, the CEO, who was just a flat-out nice guy. We had a great conversation for a few minutes and parted ways.

I texted the DOM for Shoney’s asking him if I could stop by for lunch and was treated to lunch by another senior staff member who spent more time with me than I do with any of my minions.

This morning, the CEO told me that they spend time and energy in community involvement, and I continued to feel that resounded over and over. Over the years, I’ve been treated to lunch, I’ve been given favors in hopes of a favorable word and the like, but they just made me feel good.

And I can tell you, they left a lifetime impression on me. And I’ll have no hesitation seeking them out when we travel or when we’re going out here locally.

This Shoney’s is different.

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Naturally, when you see a larger brand enter into a market for the first time in a while, or if they open a new location, you’d expect them to try some things differently. This is no different.

The Shoney’s in Panama City Beach is doing a few things differently, but they’re staying true to the heritage their CEO emphasized to me this morning: that they offer “good value, family American dining.”

Some of the things they’re doing differently here include having a full steakhouse menu, full bar (beer and liquor), completely different ambiance, they have a Hometown Cafe (espresso, latte and mocha), and they have outside patio seating (that seats 60).

And another huge difference, and I mean huge in the literal sense, is that this is the largest Shoney’s they have, ringing in around 7,200 square feet.

The food and the prices.

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When asked this morning what he thought Shoney’s was best known for, David Davoudpour told me “value, and fresh, quality food.” Rob, the representative that met me for lunch told me all the ingredients are fresh, nothing comes in frozen, and pointed to my onion rings stating they are all hand battered from fresh cut onions.

I have to admit, when Red Robin came in (right across the street), I was excited to try them, but I was disappointed in their price-point. I have a hard time taking my whole family there for less than $100. Remember, I have 5 kids.

When I was looking at the menu, I was impressed at the low cost of the items. It’s hard going out to eat around here without spending a fortune.

Davoudpour told me this morning that I had to try the burgers. So for lunch, I had an All American Burger, and was asked at the time of order whether I wanted pink or no pink. I chose pink and I was not let down. The burger was moist and tender, the bun was fantastic and the “fix ins” were perfect. The burger was perfectly adorned and it really was absolutely delicious.

As a side I got onion rings, and they were amazing as well.

My meal, with the water I ordered, would have been $6.99 plus tax. Not a bad lunch.

So, where are they?

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Remember that Cantina Mexican restaurant across from Red Robin? They shut down and Shoney’s filled in their spot. They’ve spend the last couple months building and the inside looks great. They’ve filled it out nicely and they have plenty of room for professional groups (hello IdeaCamp) and private parties.

So, Shoney’s in Panama City Beach in Pier Park. Try it. It’s fantastic and totally receives the PCBDaily’s Stamp of Approval.

New Walmart Starts Construction

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

The new Walmart being installed next to Pier Park has begun construction as of yesterday.  Located right next door to Target, across from Powell Adams Road, an official “designation” is still unclear, but it’s certain to have grocery.  We recently discussed the site plans that were clear that it would not only include grocery, but a full bakery section, deli (with display coolers), fresh produce, garden center, and other general areas you’d expect to find in a Walmart.

We do know that this Walmart will be 156,000 square feet, which is 70% of the size of the Super Walmart to the east of this one.

What they’ll be doing first.

In preparation for the general construction, they’ve got to level out the land and get everything ready for the giant slab that we’ll walk on as we shop for the next umpteen years.  If you remember, there is a huge sand hill that’s been there for years, capturing the tires of renegade wannabe off-roaders that have bravely attempted to traverse it’s heights.  Yes, even my own brother got stuck in that hill, before he had four wheel drive.

They’ll be putting up perimeter fencing to help protect our eyes from the menacing construction equipment and keep the kids out and installing a central construction trailer to manage day to day operations.

Construction timeline and property details.

At this point, the construction timeline is still projected to be right at 12 months.  I would think they would want to get this done by next spring season, or at the latest, next summer season.  We’ll keep an eye on things as it progresses.

There will be out parcels along Panama City Beach Parkway (Back Beach Road), three entry points on Powell Adams Road and one entry point on Back Beach Road.

Powell Adams Road improvements.

One of the more controversial elements to this development, interestingly enough, has been the improvements to Powell Adams Road.  Many of the Walmart Opposition Party have contended that if something goes in that requires improvements to the road, they should have to pay for it, not the taxpayer.

Powell Adams Road is on the schedule for the CRA improvement treatment plan in the next couple years, and the Walmart development has put these improvements on the fast track.  The cool thing about this is that the City was going to fund this entirely, originally, and it wasn’t going to happen for at least 2 more years.  But, since Walmart is coming, and the improvements are needed in order to meet the requirements that will come with the increased traffic, Walmart is partially funding this improvement project.

The improvements will be on Powell Adams Road and go back to LC Hilton Drive (the road you can take to Miracle Strip and the center round about.

Why Walmart paying just a portion is more than fair.

The way this was explained to me was that Walmart is paying for the improvements that they would need and the City is paying for the improvements that are above and beyond that which would bring them up to the CRA standards (think curbs, sidewalks, decorative street lighting, and landscaping).

You see, if Walmart put in the baseline improvements that were needed in order to accomodate the traffic increase that would come with it’s development, we’d get signalization and a wider road out of the deal, at no cost.  But the beautification that comes with the CRA treatment would not happen, and the potential cost down the road when the City got to this portion of the improvement schedule would be proportionally higher.

BUT, by just “charging” Walmart the cost is would be for the improvements they need to make, and the City paying for the other improvement elements that come with the normal CRA improvements, we save money (because we’re not paying for the baseline improvements) and we get the beautification much earlier than expected (literally by years).

So, in my eyes, it’s a win-win.  What do you think? Comment below. 😉

 

Run to Rum Runners in Pier Park

Fun is Contagious at the new Rum Runners in Panama City Beaches’ Pier Park. If you walk out of the Grand Theatre and turn right, you’ll see it on the corner in the space previously occupied by Tuscany Italian Grill and Guglielmo’s. When you walk in, you’ll be greeted by friendly faces that invite you in with a smile and a warmth that fits right in with the tropical décor.

In fact, Vincent Wood the same artist that designed the scenes for the Sandestin Resort location also brought his iconic tropical designs to the new Pier Park location. The artwork is fun and festive and complimentary to the tiki hut roof over the bar. The suspended surfboards and Hawaiian printed shirts make you feel like it is definitely five o’clock somewhere….and most likely somewhere on a beach.

Karen Smith (aka My Mom) who is always ready for adventure, and me – always ready for a good meal 🙂 – decided to pay this new hot spot a visit. Our server, Jonathon, was friendly and knowledgeable and had nothing but good things to say about his job.

“They make it fun here. It is not just about getting the food out, it’s about making sure our customers have a good time.” He told us both we needed to come back after 8 pm for the dueling piano players. Rum Runners is known for their great entertainment. And the fun is not just for the vacationers, many locals enjoy the casual atmosphere and seven-day-a-week music acts that both encourage audience participation and expand over a variety of genres.

When we asked what we should order, he pointed us to some of the favorites on the menu like the Hurricane Burger and the Lobster Bisque. I opted for a small fresh salad and the appetizer portion of their famous Ahi Ahi Tuna with Wakame, which was delicious. The portions were generous, and the presentations attractive, at least until we devoured them! We drank sweet tea, but at night, the creativity of Rum Runners bartenders attracts many. Many of these “mixologists” have their own unique special creations, but like in Sandestin, the two most popular crowd pleaser drinks are the classic Rum Runner and the Calypso Punch.

Before you run to Rum Runners, run and find them on Facebook. Then run and get you some of that Ahi Ahi Tuna!

Miracle Strip Adds New Ride: Sea Dragon!

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

In keeping with the tradition of adding tasteful rides to the growing amusement area in Pier Park, Miracle Strip @ Pier Park has added another ride.  This comes after a winter of planning and reorganizing the whole park, shifting the Red Baron Plane ride to the other side of the park and moving the Tilt a Whirl over.  The Sea Dragon is on the far east side of the property with a decorative fence behind it.

The Sea Dragon

One of the few rides I can actually ride at Miracle Strip without feeling my stomach in my throat is the Sea Dragon.  The spin rides really do me wrong – but my kids love them – however, vertical and horizontal acceleration rides do me very right.

This type of ride allows a small amount of air-time for those riders sitting in the very back as the ride swings back and forth, over and over.

A total list of all the rides at Miracle Strip @ Pier Park

Along with the addition of the Sea Dragon, they’ve changed some things around and added some ancillary fun for the kids as well. On the south side of the property, they added a huge bounce pillow (parent friendly) and near the entrance, they’re working on a kiddie train area where the little ones can navigate the rails on their own.

Here is a complete list of their rides and attractions.

  • Tilt a Whirl
  • Scrambler
  • Ferris Wheel
  • Carousel
  • Red Baron Planes
  • Balloon Race
  • Sea Dragon
  • Butterfly Pavilion
  • Bounce Pillow
  • Kiddie Train (under construction)
Pricing for admission, rides, day bands, etc.

They’ve really packed a lot of fun into Miracle Strip @ Pier Park – adding enough entertainment to keep the kids occupied for a couple hours.  The other thing that’s great for parents is that they’ve added fencing all around the park so there is only one point of entry and exit.  I for one can certainly appreciate this with my four little kids.

There are several ways to enjoy the fun.  Here is a breakdown of all the ticket pricing.

  • Single ticket pricing — $3.50 — each ride requires one ticket
  • Book of 10 tickets — $29
  • Single day arm band — $18 — includes unlimited rides for the full day for wearer
  • Season pass — $99 — unlimited access for the bearer, along with a “buddy” (basically good for 2 people)

For more information on Miracle Strip, visit their website and Like their Facebook page.

Dick’s Last Resort, Rum Runners and More Come to Pier Park

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

Grab your shopping bags and bring your appetite because Pier Park is adding some new shops and restaurants.  It’s no secret how popular of a destination Pier Park is, and with over 110 shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, it’s certainly not surprising either.

There are a couple new additions that either just opened, or about to open, and a number of new retailers that will open in the next few months.

Two new restaurants.

Dick’s Last Resort will bring a new dining experience to Panama City Beach, unlike any other.  The restaurant features outrageous, surly and energetic wait staff, tasty comfort food and live entertainment.  The restaurant opened Monday in the former Guy Harvey’s Island Grill space.

Just in time for Spring Break, Rum Runners will open in March in the “E” Shops just south of the Grand Theatre (in place of where Guglielmo’s was).  The restaurant will offer a casual dining atmosphere and full-service bar featuring a mix of live entertainment including dueling piano shows and interactive customer participation in a tropical Caribbean-style setting.

Both will add a fitting flair for vacationers in our warm, tropical weather.

Other new additions for 2012.

French Charmed recently opened at Pier Park and offers its shoppers French country décor and European-inspired goods.  Many of the collections are unique and expertly hand crafted.  The boutique is located on the Boardwalk between Polk a Dots Toys & Gifts and Latitude 29.

Also opening in February will be Francesca’s Collections which specializes in gifts, apparel, home accessories and jewelry that reflect fashionable styles from all over the world.  The new store will be located next to Bath & Body Works in the Town Center.

Joining the Florida panhandle as the first in the market, Charming Charlie will offer a unique fashion accessory boutique designed to help women of all ages complete their outfits, regardless of the occasion or mood.  The accessory store will be located in the Town Center.

Pepper Palace will open its doors in March.  Offering a variety of spicy food products from an assortment of hot sauces to habanero corn bread mix, this hot spot will be a favorite for fiery foodies.  The new store will be located on the Boardwalk’s west side between Accessories on the Boardwalk and Gamestop.

Celebrated by many style conscious and trend savvy shoppers, Forever 21 will boast more than 23,205-square-feet of space, occupying the former Border’s location.  This new store will offer a variety of apparel, shoes and accessories aimed at customers of all ages.

More about Pier Park.

Just in case you’ve been under a rock for the last 4 years, Pier Park is one of the single best things that has happened to Panama City Beach.  With the development of Pier Park came the creation of a retail destination that has provided a place for people to not only shop, but hang out, recreate.

With over 110 shops and restaurant, there is 1.1 million square feet of retail shopping space and an aesthetic design that’s conducive for family fun.

The bottom of their most recent press release reads:

The multi-dimensional property also hosts numerous free community events throughout the year. Large-scale signature events include the New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop and the Star Spangled-Spectacular July 4 concert and fireworks show.  Pier Park will keep the spirit alive this year with a Mardi Gras festival.  The colorful event will be held on February 17 and 18 and will include a Second Line Parade Friday evening the 17th and a Children’s Parade at 1:00pm with the big parade shortly after.  The Bourbon Street Village will open Friday at noon and there will be a car show as well.

Pier Park Target Adding Grocery Ahead of Walmart

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties around the Pier Park area.  They range from 1 to 3 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found at PCBLP.com.

With all the talk of Walmart coming into the area, it’s spurred even more activity.  Although Target’s making no claims of “keeping up with the Jones,” or in this case, “Walmart”, their push to add an expanded grocery section is certainly a plan to keep them ahead.  The Walmart that is being installed adjacent to Target, right across Powell Adams Road, is rumored to have a significant grocery area including produce and meats – although nothing official has been announced.

What we can expect at Target.

Target already has a pretty good grocery section.  It is certainly not Publix (or a Walmart Supercenter for that matter), but our family’s spontaneous needs can typically be met there.  They have milk, eggs, deli meats, some frozen foods, ice cream, cereal, chips, coffee, bread and tons of other essentials, and it’s all very fairly priced.  Shoot, we often do our grocery shopping there.

With the reorganization they’re adding fresh produce and meats and expanding on the other item types they already carry.  This will make them more of a one-stop shop and should bring in more grocery shoppers.  If it’s decent produce, it’ll draw our family in, along with countless others.

Target is also getting remodeled.

Just less than 5 years after opening, they’re giving the inside a significant overhaul.  You may have noticed the circus-tent-looking structure to the side of the building, next to the retired garden center – that’s the staging area for the work being done.

Expect new paint inside, new end cap designs, new isle layouts, isle shifts and a fresh new look.

When it’ll be complete.

Timing is everything right?  The new Walmart hasn’t even broke ground yet, much less begun moving dirt.  But the remodeled Target, groceries, and produce should be complete by mid-March.  Employees are expecting things to be ready for spring break.  This is well suited for what is projected to be, again, the busiest rental season ever.  As we just learned, last year broke records, if 2012 is better, then we’ll break more records.

What are your thoughts on the new Target? Do you think it’ll compete with whatever Walmart puts in?  Would you shop there?