Walmart plans 2 new locations

First Posted: 1/29/2014

LUMBERTON — Nearly 180 jobs could be coming with the opening of two new Walmart Markets in Lumberton.

The gigantic retailer is currently trying to get zoning requests approved by the city of Lumberton.

The Walmart Markets, which at 40,000 square feet each are roughly a quarter the size of a Walmart Super Center, will focus mostly on grocery sales, though both would be built with pharmacy and gas station amenities. Both locations would also serve as pickup outlets for those who have purchased items from Walmart’s website. Currently Lumberton already has a Walmart Super Center, located on Fayetteville Road.

According to City Manager Wayne Horne, the new Walmarts are set to be built at the Meadow Road and N.C. 41 intersection and the intersection of West Fifth and Hilton streets. The Walmarts would be about four miles apart.

The Walmart Markets, formerly called Walmart Neighborhood Markets, are a chain of grocery stores that offer baked goods, dairy, deli, frozen food, meat, produce, seafood, snack and liquor products. The first Walmart Market opened in 1998. As of December, there were 333 Walmart Markets throughout the United States.

“We are excited about the economic development and job development this will bring our community,” Horne said. “It is always positive news when people invest in the community.”

Walmart spokesperson Bill Wertkz said that the two new locations would create nearly 90 jobs each, not including temporary construction work, and added that the jobs would be mostly full-time positions.

According to Wertkz, the average hourly rate for Walmart employees in North Carolina is $12.82 an hour.

“Communities with Walmarts have generally been very pleased with the positive benefits that we bring, not only the job creation but tax revenue created for the local community,” Wertkz said. “Our stores are active in the community, we donate to local organizations and the customers will benefit because we offer the same low prices as the normal Super Center Walmarts do.”

Walmarts aren’t always warmly recieved as they offer prices that threaten smaller, locally owned retailers. In St. Pauls, there is a public hearing Monday night on a zoning request that is needed to locate a Walmart Market in that town, and there is expected to be plenty of opposition. The hearing it at 7 p.m. in courtroom at the St. Pauls Municipal Building.

Danny Drahna, the owner of Kash & Karry Supermarket on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, isn’t worried about a Walmart Market nearby. He believes his customers will remain loyal and that he can still offer lower prices than the international retail chain.

“It will be beneficial to the community, for sure,” Drahna said. “More competition is always beneficial.”

Wertkz also sees competition as healthy for locally owned businesses, noting that many other businesses will likely open near the new Walmart locations to take advantage of the additional traffic.

“This will be a stimulus for the community … But at the end of the day, where people shop is still up to them,” said Wertkz. “So we need to make sure that we offer what they are looking for.”

Wertkz was not able to offer an estimate of when construction on the two locations begin.

There are two Super Walmarts in Robeson County, with one in Lumberton and the other in Pembroke. There is a Walmart Express, which is the smallest of the company’s three models, in Red Springs.