Local News

Amidst Controversy, New Wal-Mart Approved In Sanford

Posted February 1, 2006

— It's the United States' No. 1 big-box retailer, and it keeps getting bigger. For a lot of smaller stores, that's bad news. On Wednesday, Sanford city leaders paved the way for a new Super Wal-Mart in town, but the issue stirred controversy.

Sanford's current Wal-Mart is the original kind -- not a Supercenter, which includes a grocery store. Still, the store stays busy. People flock there all day long, so the retail giant wants to grow.

Wal-Mart wants to move out of its old building and build a Supercenter less than a mile away, on 50 acres. City leaders unanimously voted yes to that request, but that was something the developer knew wasn't a given.

"I hope this project shows that it works," said developer Jim Price.

Some small businesses believe the new store will kill the downtown stores.

"If anybody's not scared, they don't know what's going on in their business," said downtown business owner Steve Suitt.

But others can't wait. One restaurant has firsthand experience. It's next door to the existing Wal-Mart, and it hasn't suffered. Instead, it's fed off the retailer's business.

"It helps our business greatly, because people get out of there from shopping and they want to come over here and get a bite to eat real quick," said restaurant worker Marcus Faulk. "It's not a problem. It's right across the parking lot."

Wal-Mart plans to break ground as early as spring. Then, supporters and critics alike will see if "satisfaction" is truly "guaranteed."

Some worry about the existing Wal-Mart's building. They don't want an empty eyesore in town. WRAL left messages for corporate executives, but no one responded.

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