Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is set to open its first Walmart Neighborhood Market grocery store in California in Huntington Beach on Friday.

The 31,000-square-foot store on Beach Boulevard will operate 24 hours per day and employ about 65 workers. It will be the company’s fourth location on the West Coast.

“It’s an opportunity to bring affordable groceries to the Huntington Beach community,” said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Delia Garcia. “The location is important also because it is the last stop before the beach, so it’s an opportunity to make sure we serve customers and help them to get their needs before they get to the beach.”

The Neighborhood Market stores are much smaller than standard Wal-Mart stores, averaging about 38,000 square feet. The stores sell bakery items, meats, dairy products and frozen foods, among other items.

Wal-Mart has more than 200 of the stores nationally, and now is focusing on growing the chain on the West Coast focusing on real estate in areas it considers underserved by grocers or with sufficient demand for fresh, affordable groceries.

Walmart Neighborhood Markets compete with British grocer and retail operator Tesco PLC’s Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Inc. and Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Markets LLC.

The Huntington Beach store is the first of four Neighborhood Markets planned for Orange County.

The store is taking space that had previously been occupied by drugstore Rite-Aid.

Another Walmart Neighborhood Market store is expected to open in Rancho Santa Margarita in mid-August, with another planned for early fall in Anaheim. A store in Garden Grove, the largest so far planned in OC at about 46,000 square feet, is set to open in late fall.

The future OC stores will take up existing space in shopping centers.

The Neighborhood Market openings come as the company plans to open a Walmart Supercenter store in La Habra in late fall. A Supercenter in Irvine is planned for an early 2013 opening and another in Huntington Beach with an opening yet to be announced.