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AUSTIN-Today, Academy Sports and Outdoors opens a new Austin store that’s nearly twice as big as the nearby store it replaces. It’s the difference between a Wal-Mart, circa 1988, and a grocery story, circa 1980, when both were considerably smaller.

The new store, located at 12250 Research Blvd., is in fact a former Wal-Mart discount center and has 67,000 sf on a 10-acre site. It will carry a greater stock of inventory, have wider aisles, better fixtures and signs, improved checkout and more parking, according to the Houston-based sporting goods chain. It will have an expanded staff of 120 workers.The former store, at Balcones Woods and Research Boulevard, was a former Safeway grocery with 35,000 sf.

Academy operates four other stores in Austin and plans to open one in Round Rock. Chainwide, the company expects to add three stores this year in Texas and Louisiana. It operates more than 50 stores in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Tennessee.

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