Hundreds of eager shoppers gathered outside of Pascagoula's new Wal-mart Supercenter waiting for the doors to open. Some how, Terry Phillips made it inside to make the first purchase while most shoppers were still getting their shopping carts.
"It's a privilege. I worked in the old store for years and to come back and be the first customer makes me feel special, Phillips said.
Managers are counting on thousands of local residents, like Terry, to shop Pascagoula now, instead of driving to Wal-mart Supercenters in Mobile or Ocean Springs.
"It's wonderful to be able to shop at this Wal-mart. No more Ocean Springs Wal-mart for me," Pascagoula resident Betty Williams said.
Mandy Wall of Moss Point agrees.
"We live 3 or 4 minutes way, so this going to be our new Wal-mart," Wall said.
Managers expect Pascagoula's new Wal-mart Supercenter to double the sales of the old store. Because of that, the store is also doubling its staff to more than 500 employees. That makes it the largest Super Wal-mart along the entire gulf coast.
"Those folks are the ones who actually run the business. They're the department heads, the cashiers the greeters. Their experience is invaluable to us," Manager Rob Richardson said.
Super Wal-mart is the latest in a string of major franchises opening in east Pascagoula. Realtors say Wal-mart's customers will also draw new business into the area.
"Merchants and people in the retail business will actually gravitate towards a Wal-mart Supercenter site," Realtor Mark Cumbust said.
"You have got to get excited about it. This is Wal-mart," Moss Point Resident Faye Moore said.
Managers and city leaders hope that excitement will translate into financial success for the whole area.