Lone Walmart in Scott County to close
By Elizabeth Horn
After thirty five years of business in Waldron and Scott County. Waldron Walmart will permanently close doors Friday, July 14, as confirmed by Anne Hatfield, Walmart Corporate Communications Director.
“After a careful and thoughtful review process, we have made the difficult decision to close the Walmart store at 1359 W 2ndStreet in Waldron, Arkansas.
We continually review our store portfolio to make sure we are achieving this long-term strategy.We are grateful to the customers and the community who have given us the privilege of serving them," shared Hatfield. "Right now, our number one objective is assisting our employees with their next job opportunity," she continued. We will go into the store and speak to each employee on a face-to-face basis and provide them with options.
“We care deeply about the associates impacted and want to assist them in any way possible."
When asked about the decision process, Hatfield responded that it was an internal decision based on the company's Standard Review Process. "This was not a decision made as of late. The review has been on-going and with much discussion," explained Hatfield. There are several components that make up the standard review. One does include the financial performance of the store as well as the strategic alignment the store has within the company's long term plan. In the case with the store in Waldron, this criteria has not been met. Our standard review process is very similar to what other retailers base their portfolios against."
The closing of the Waldron store will directly effect 98 employees and their families, but this will also affect other components and infrastructure of the community including tax components as well as product availability and needs for Waldron and Scott County citizens. Scott County Judge James Forbes responded to the closing by stating that there will be an impact within the whole county.
"This news has been devastating for the citizens of Scott County.I do not agree with Walmart’s decision to close the store; not only because of the employees that are involved but also due to the economic impact it will have have on our county. I will be working with other officials on this matter including the mayor, our local legistlative representatives and congressional leaders, as well as the district workforce agencies. It has been immediate change for these 98 employees, but we must now look at both short term and long term affects this closure will have on Scott County.
This was a significant retailer within our community, so the impact will be great, but we will all work together and assist in all areas throughout the transition.”
Waldron mayor, Neil Cherry shared the following, “The city of Waldron has been deeply saddened by the news of our local Wal-Mart closing on July 14th. It is the only Wal-Mart in our county and will especially affect the availability of shopping for our low-income and elderly residents who will find it difficult, if not impossible, travelling to the Super Centers in the surrounding areas.”
“It is our goal at the City of Waldron to assist our community to the extent possible during this transition. I have offered our meeting rooms to the Wal-Mart management team for counseling and interviews to accommodate the local associates in transferring to another store or obtaining new employment ... as a community we must grasp this moment and move it forward to the best of our ability.”
Anne Crossett, community member shared her views regarding the cause, "This closing of Walmart in Waldron, Arkansas is going to affect every phase of our lives. From the employees, to their families, to the pharmacy where I buy my drugs. It's going to affect people who cannot drive 20 to 30 miles to get their medicine .. and this is probably going to keep us from getting a second doctor in Waldron which we've been working so hard for.
The medicine may increase to where we cannot afford it or be able have it on hand," shared Ann Crossett. "She continued, "It will affect our grants that they give our boys and girls club, our food pantries, it affects our churches, our youth, it affects everything. Please reconsider closing Walmart, we need you. Everyone in Walmart needs you. And then there will be many things that we cannot get. It'll hurt people who cannot drive, who do not have any means of buying things unless they come to Walmart. Please help us…"
According to Hatfield, the pharmacy will close their doors June 28, and the Tire and Lube Express is expected to close this week.
Rebecca Jones, a loyal Walmart customer shared, "I found out today that Walmart was closing. I'm very concerned especially due to the medicine. I have a daughter that takes seizure medicine and we are not able to drive the distance to another location or town.What are we going to do here? We're asking the stockholders, please do not shut us down and turn us into a ghost town. We don't need it. We have got good employees out here this is a good place,"
Though the last day for the public will be July 14, Hatfield shared that all employees within the store will be paid through August 18.
The closing of Walmart will also have an impact on the company due to the business' role and involvement within various non-profit organizations.
"It's going to be devastating to our community. We would like to see some options, something we could offer them to stay," stated Tammye Sherrill with the University of Arkansas at Rich Mountain.
"We have supported this Walmart store financially since it has been here, and we all would like to know why the store is moving. We want to hear it from the head office. This is a town that needs their Walmart," expressed Barbara Gilbert.
When asked about a contact number for citizens to express their concerns to to the corporation and headquarters, Hatfield responded, "They will need to call the customer service line, which is 1-800-walmart, and someone would be able to assist them."
We are a great community, with a lot to offer. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Walmart families," stated Chad Owens, Waldron Area Chamber of Commerce President.
"The Waldron Area Chamber of Commerce representatives were saddened to hear the announcement of the closing of our local Walmart. Although this is a business decision for them it will definitely drastically impact our community. Our plan is to meet with Mayor Cherry to discuss any options we may have available in order to make a formal request to Walmart asking that they reconsider their decision or deciding if there may be other retailers who may be interested in doing business in our community."