Wal-Mart officials answer questions | CraigDailyPress.com

Wal-Mart officials answer questions

Christina M. Currie

Wal-Mart officials were in Craig last week to answer questions about the proposed 100,000-square-foot Supercenter.

Although residents got several details about the process, there are still several questions the store’s representatives were unable to address.

At 100,000 square feet, the proposed store is the smallest of Wal-Mart’s Supercenters. How it will be laid out has not been determined, but Wal-Mart spokesman Keith Morris said it will have all 36 departments other Supercenters boast. He said there are nearly 15 floor plans to chose from. He expects the store — roughly the same size as Kmart — to offer a full selection, but he doesn’t expect there to be space remaining for some of the small accessory stores — hair salons, coffee stands or optometrists — many Wal-Marts offer.

If there is space remaining, he said the first option would likely be a snack bar or a photo studio.

Morris doesn’t expect selection — retail or groceries — to suffer because of the size of the store.

The corporation has retained one of the five lots created by subdividing the 23-acre site for fuel pumps, but the plans don’t call for an automotive service center. Whether Wal-Mart will provide the fuel or contract it out also has yet to be determined.

The role that the store plays in the community is generally determined by the store manager, and Morris said that varies. Some store managers are very involved in their communities while others focus mainly on running the store.

Regardless, the corporation contributes heavily to charities and individual stores are given the autonomy to determine how their charitable dollars — which could be as much as $80,000 to $90,000 a year — are distributed within the community. An employee-based committee evaluates requests and makes the final decisions, Morris said.

That’s not the only way the store will benefit the community, he said. He expects the Craig store to generate $750,000 in local sales tax revenue, nearly $500,000 of which would go to the city and the remainder to the county.

Craig Chamber of Com–merce Executive Director Annette Gianinetti voiced concerns about rumors she’s heard about Wal-Mart vacating a building — to either close it or move to another location — and leaving it vacant. She’s heard that the corporation does that purposefully to discourage competition.

Morris said that isn’t the case, and that Wal-Mart has sold or leased vacant stores to grocery and retail chains. He said the number of vacant Wal-Mart buildings can be attributed to a lease program in the 1980s. Instead of building, the corporation negotiated long-term leases on buildings. When the store was moved or expanded, that lease was still in effect.

Wal-Mart will own the store it’s building in Craig.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring and take eight to 10 months to complete.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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