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NAMPA — The new WinCo store in Nampa was full of shoppers Thursday morning when the grocery store officially opened for business.

By 10 a.m., an hour after the doors opened, a line for the check-out stretched to the back of the store and employees were already re-stocking shelves of Cheetos. People filled their carts to bursting with bottles of water, meat and other groceries.

Though the lines were long, they seemed to move fairly quickly, commented Maria Rodriguez, who came out with two cases of bottled water and several bags of groceries.

“It’s not too bad. There’s a lot of people,” she said.

Ben and Norma Jepson, regular shoppers at the other WinCo across town, came early in the morning with hundreds of other shoppers.

“We love crowds,” Ben joked.

He added, “They have a few good prices on things, so we thought we’d see what was going on.”

Located at 1175 N. Happy Valley Road, the new store is closer to home for the Jepsons.

Emily Abe, the Jepsons’ neighbor, stopped by WinCo as well with her two young sons.

“I just like that you can get in and out quickly and there’s really good prices and good food,” Abe said.

The new WinCo is the 112th store for the Boise-based, employee-owned company. In addition to Idaho, the company has locations in Arizona, California Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington. Another store is expected to open in Moses Lake, Washington, later this year.

Staffed by 180 to 200 full- and part-time employees, the 84,000-square-foot store is open 24/7 and offers bulk foods, a meat department, deli, bakery and organic products. The company prides itself on low prices.

The new WinCo could help take pressure off the WinCo on 2020 Caldwell Blvd., which opened in 1997 and underwent a $2 million expansion in 2010. The success of the original Nampa location, in many ways, serves as a model for the company, WinCo spokesman Noah Fleisher said.

While exact rankings and statistics were not made available, Fleisher said the Caldwell Boulevard store is one of the busiest in the company, which also helped ease the decision to add another location in the city.

“This whole area is booming,” Fleisher said. “This area is our backyard. We love the Boise-Nampa area, and the Boise-Nampa area seems to love WinCo back. It’s kind of a natural area for us.”

While Caldwell does not have a WinCo and Nampa now has two, Fleisher said there are no immediate plans to build in Caldwell. But he said the company is always open to exploring new opportunities.

The company is experimenting with a smaller store concept. On Thursday, it opened a Waremart grocery store in Ontario, Oregon.

Waremart is the original name of WinCo, which changed its name in 1999 after a company-wide vote. Only one other Waremart remains in operation, in Independence, Oregon.

The 40,000-square-foot Waremart will be similar to WinCo with a bulk foods section, in-store brands, fresh produce and meat, Fleisher said. It will not have an on-site deli or bakery.

Smaller stores allow the company to expand its business into communities that are not big enough for a WinCo, Fleisher said.

Another Waremart is in the works for Keizer, Oregon.

Lis Stewart is the Nampa and business reporter. She can be reached at 465-8193 or Follow on Twitter: @LStewNews.

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