For people that lived in Corsicana during the fall of 1983, there was a new level of excitement in town as the upcoming grand opening of College Park Mall drew closer. Before the mall opened its full selection of stores to the public, however, Wal-Mart premiered the mall's first phase with a soft opening on Oct.15, 1983.
Wal-Mart was the fourth discount store to open in town at the time, joining the ranks of Woolworth, K-Mart, and Gibson's. The Arkansas-based chain began in Rogers, Arkansas in 1945, eventually headquartering in Bentonville. At the time, Wal-Mart traditionally located to small towns of fewer than 25,000 people, and Wal-Mart was making Texas one of its primary growth targets for the next few years.
Anticipation for the new Wal-Mart was high, with several local businesses welcoming the retailer to the community. With the mall opening its second phase in November, Wal-Mart had built a 65,000-square-foot store where Atwood's is located today. The new business was managed by Leo Driscoll, a former assistant manager had been transferred from the Moberly, Missouri store to lead the 100 workers that staffed the retailer's 35 departments.
Wal-Mart's diverse collection of departments included a pharmacy, an auto center, sections for furniture, fabrics, clothes, cameras, toys, electronics, and jewelry alongside a snack bar and a live pet department.
By the night of Saturday's Oct. 15 opening, Driscoll told the Corsicana Daily Sun that while the public attendance figures hadn't come in for the first day, the first day sales were higher than expected.
Wal-Mart didn't host its official grand opening until March 7, 1984 with the full opening of College Park Mall. The event was celebrated with costumed clowns, balloons, and a contest drawing for a 10-speed bike.
The retailer, now known as “Walmart,” still exists in Corsicana today, having moved from its mall location to its present superstore at 3801 State Hwy 31 W.