WINNSBORO — The Walmart in Winnsboro was included in the 154 domestic stores retail giant Walmart announced last week it would be closing.
It will be the third major chain to have closed its doors in the past four years. The store is slated to close for good Jan. 28.
Several of the employees at Walmart are optimistic they will be able to transfer to Killian Road, the next closest store to Winnsboro. Some are planning to make the move to Bi-Lo.
The good news is that several local businesses should see an increase in business.
Chamber of Commerce president Terry Vickers is hopeful that the community will think back to its small town roots and look to other local businesses.
“There may be some entrepreneurs just waiting to open a Mom and Pop shop,” she said.
The community has expressed every emotion from outrage to grief. Many were unhappy with Walmart’s arrival in 1997 and felt that the store would drive many small businesses into closing.
Few, however, can argue that the value offered by the store wasn’t a positive for many in the community. Many are now rallying to try to keep the store where it is.
Last Saturday, several volunteers were outside Walmart’s entrance with petitions to save the store. One volunteer said that he wasn’t an employee, he just felt that the community needed the store and wanted to do his part to save it.
District 41 Rep. MaryGail Douglas contacted Walmart in an effort to keep the store open. She said her constituents have been especially concerned, not only for the lost jobs, but for the need to drive more than 20 miles to the next closest store.
The concern, as she put it, was that the distance could prove troublesome.
“Many of our folks have no transportation and we have no public transportation like so many rural areas of our country,” she said.
Douglas said she is hoping for the county, state, and Walmart to find some plan to keep the store open.
District 17 Sen. Creighton Coleman was also among those doing what they could to keep the store here. Coleman jumped at the announcement Friday and began putting together a plan of action.
He started by speaking with South Carolina’s Secretary of Commerce, Bobby Hitt, who is also doing what he can to provide assistance to the community.
“I’ve called all the appropriate people to try to reach out to Walmart to see if we could sit down and talk to see what we can do,” Coleman said. “Hopefully we can do something, but we if not we need to be ready and try to find something to take their place.”
Reach James Inabinet at 803-635-4016.