Wal-Mart looking to open store in Powhatan

By Laura Geller - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

POWHATAN, VA (WWBT) - Walmart could be coming to Powhatan! The county is buzzing with rumors after the discount giant met with county leaders Tuesday. The Arkansas based company is looking to open a big box store on the north side of Route-60 near the Luck Stone Plant.

The possible store on the 53 acre site would be number 13 in the Richmond area and residents here in Powhatan have mixed reactions to the idea.

County leaders say their meeting with Walmart is just the first step in possibly bringing the discount giant to their rural county. But some small business owners fear their fate is sealed.

"I just think we are changing the whole personality and character of our county.  And once you take that step, you go over that line and it's never, ever, ever the same again," said Debbie Markel, Owner of Apothecarian Herbs.

Opponents are taking their fight to the web - touting the slogan "not in my neighborhood." In less than two weeks, 300 people have joined the Facebook group.

Some shop owners say they sell some of the same products you can find at a Walmart. But they simply can't offer the same kind of discounts. They're feeling enough competition from the location a few miles up the road and worry the cheap prices inside the county will put them out of business.

Scott Gregg's family has owned the two Powhatan Pharmacies for 35 years. He's hoping customer service will help win over shoppers even if Walmart comes to town.

"You have one on ones with the pharmacists. The pharmacists can actually take time to talk to you about your medicine. You're not waiting an hour or two to get your prescription. You're usually in and out in 15, 20 mins," said Gregg.

But in these tough economic times, the James family's support of the discount giant stems from their bottom line.

"There's six of us to feed in our household so we're always looking for a deal as far as our shopping," said resident Katrina James.

As of today, Walmart has not filed any rezoning papers with the county. When and if they do, the proposal would have to face public hearings. We talked to the supervisor in charge of this district, he says they'll balance the pros and cons, but no final decisions have been made just yet.

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