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Courier/Jo. L. Keener

Wal-Mart's new superstore will have more than 30 checkout registers.

Besides being nearly double in size, the new store will feature a grocery department and Tire and Lube Express, according to store director Joel Petersen, who opened the Frontier Village store. Wal-Mart also will lease space near the entrance to shops offering services such as eye care, hearing aids and manicures, and will have a gas station.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., transferred employees from the Frontier Village store and hired about 350 more workers, bringing the total to 610, Petersen said. About 300 employees were on the job on Wednesday.

And, while Wal-Mart prepares to open its grocery section with a possible strike looming at the Fry's and Safeway supermarkets in the tri-city area, Petersen said the non-union chain would not exploit the situation should it occur.

Instead, he said that "I think people will be shopping here because we have friendly associates, a large assortment of quality products and Wal-Mart's everyday low prices."

Petersen discussed the corporate culture of a company founded by the late Sam Walton before the meeting got under way on the floor.

He explained that Wal-Mart officials refer to employees as "associates" because "we work together as partners."

Wal-Mart operates its stores "under the team concept," he said, while adding that Wal-Mart officials refer to their managers as "coaches" because "we feel we are part of a great, big team."

Petersen continued, "Our management leadership style is called 'serving leadership.' And by that we are trying to help everybody to do the best job they can do and also help us create teamwork."

Veronica Rocha, an associate in training in the dairy section, said she joined Wal-Mart after being unemployed for nearly a year. She lives in Paulden and formerly worked as a housekeeper.

"The people seem to be really nice," she said. "I like it. I needed something to do."

Others caught the spirit, too.

Joe Morales, home entertainment manager and self-styled "honorary cheerleader," yelled, "Fire up!"

Petersen called Dennis Bagardo, a dairy worker who transferred from the Payson store, to the platform, and gave him a button and certificate.

"We are going to deposit a share of Wal-Mart stock in your account," Petersen said.

He also presented a certificate to Eliza Griest, toy department manager, for working for the Frontier Village store for 10 years.

Petersen also announced plans to present a 31-inch color TV set as a prize to a lucky employee in a drawing if the store were to go six and a half days without an accident involving employees.

Morales concluded the rally by running between two formations of associates and chanting the letters of Wal-Mart.

Contact the reporter at khedler@prescottaz.com

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