Walmart responds after deciding to close its Clinton location
CLINTON, Ill. (WRSP) —
For many, the announcement to close a Walmart location in Clinton is shocking news.
But, it’s something that city officials say they only found out about Thursday morning, a month before it is set to close its doors.
"No conversation at all. Our first notice was when they called us about 8:30 yesterday morning," Clinton City Administrator Tim Followell said.
Followell said Walmart closing will hurt the city financially, but he said they will find a way around that. His primary concern is for the employees and the families of those employees.
Clinton does not have many major retailers in the area and come July 20th, Walmart will be closing its doors, which is not a decision many are happy with.
"I never even dreamed that when I come home and wake up one morning saying our Walmart is closing," Mary Thomas, a Clinton resident, said.
Thomas said if the Walmart closes, she thinks a lot of people will shop out of town more.
The city and a Walmart representative said it will result in about 70 people losing their jobs.
Followell said when talking with people from Walmart corporate, they mentioned there were several issues, one of which is the inability to expand.
"He said the problem is, it's no longer fitting our motto. We're limited on what we can offer because of the smallness of it and specifically, they can't add the grocery line," Followell said.
Now some said they will have to make changes in their commute, just to buy necessities.
"People have got to be out traveling out of town 20 miles each way, from Bloomington or Decatur. Older people has older cars and they're going to have to have some kind of transportation back and forth to different areas," Dearl Thomas, a Clinton resident, said.
Thomas said he also attributes the store closing to online shopping and e-commerce taking over more of the shopping quota.
Walmart Spokesperson Anne Hatfield said they will work to help their employees transfer to other locations and this closure was based on a number of factors.
"It's because of so many different things, financial performance being one of many factors," Hatfield said.
Hatfield said if customers have any questions about where to go for their prescriptions, they can reach out to Walmart to see where the next nearest store is that will fulfill their medicinal needs.
But the explanation still has people who live in Clinton asking why they are leaving their rural town and what, if anything, can be done to save it.
As of now, Walmart has said they will be planning to close the location, which has been open since 1983. Walmart does not own the building - they merely rent it. Followell said the lease is not up until January but they are already exploring other options.
"We talked to the owner, reaching out to other retail stores to see if there's any interest. We're moving with the aspect if we can't save it, how quick can we get it filled," Followell said.
The following statement is from Walmart Spokesperson, Hatfield.
“The decision to close our Clinton store is not an easy one, but, as a company, we are committed to continuing our growth and investment in Illinois. We opened this store in 1983 and we are as proud today as we’ve ever been with how the store leadership and associates have served and contributed to the local community over the years. We are grateful to the customers who have given us the privilege of serving them in Clinton. We look forward to continuing to serve them at other area locations and online at Walmart.com.”