Customers wait to enter the new Walmart on Georgia Avenue. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)
Customers wait to enter the new Wal-Mart on Georgia Avenue. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

The District’s first two Wal-Mart stores opened on Wednesday morning — following months of contentious debate over wages — with ribbon cuttings and lines of customers eager to start shopping.

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) was on hand to cut the ribbon:

And plenty of shoppers lined up outside the new stores on Wednesday morning.

Wal-Mart’s stores — at 5929 Georgia Ave. NW and 99 H St. NW — will sell a mix of electronic devices, groceries, clothing and other merchandise (as well as hunting and fishing licenses).

The retail giant’s plan to move into D.C. was the source of debate and uncertainty, much of it centering on the wages it pays employees. The D.C. Council approved a bill last summer that would have forced retailers like Wal-Mart to pay more to workers. Wal-Mart had threatened to abandon its D.C. plans over the legislation, which was vetoed by Gray in September.

Thousands applied for the jobs at the first two Wal-Mart locations, each of which employs about 300 workers. In addition to the two stores that opened Wednesday, Wal-Mart is eyeballing multiple other locations in the District.

It follows other big-box retailers that finally made their way to D.C. in recent years. The District’s first Target store opened in March 2008, the centerpiece of a Columbia Heights shopping center that also houses a Best Buy. Costco opened its first location in the nation’s capital last year, a Fort Lincoln store that was visited by Vice President Biden on opening day.

Here are some other scenes captured before and after the stores opened: