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Local Businesses Want To 'Downsize' Effect Of Person County Wal-Mart's Supercenter

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PERSON COUNTY, N.C. — There are 52 Wal-Marts, 45 supercenters and 16 Sam's Clubs in North Carolina. Wal-Mart employs 36,000 people and pumps $283 million in sales tax into North Carolina. Despite the impressive numbers, some rural areas see Wal-Mart as bad for businesses.

Several studies have documented a halo effect, particularly in rural areas. While retail sales go up in towns where Wal-Mart builds, sales in a 20-mile radius go down 25 percent, leaving locally owned businesses scrambling for customers, which is happening in Person County.

"It gives us more jobs. It keeps the money here in the local economy rather than having to drive to Durham or Danville," shopper Glenn Newsome Jr. said.

"For me, it gives me the convenience of doing the shopping and any other accessories I need all in one place," shopper Pam Gentry said.

However, some people like Henry Daniels are not happy with the new Wal-Mart.

"We need a super Wal-Mart like we need another hole in the head. It's just twice as much junk," he said.

Daniels' downtown shop is still feeling the sting of the old Wal-Mart.

"You know, I can't compete with them on prices at all," he said.

Daniels said he stayed while other downtown businesses left. One-by-one, stores in the Roxboro Square area are going, leaving just a few shops like Sam Sanders' pizza restaurant that are stuck in long-term leases.

"It seems like everyone's visiting the new super Wal-Mart," Sanders said.

"It's competition. I think when you're in a competitive situation, everybody runs their business a little better," said Glenn Newsome Sr., director of Roxboro Economic Development.

Even with the new Wal-Mart, some businesses are hoping for better days.

"Times have changed, but I think hopefully that it will sort of turn around and move around and we can all live together and grow together and prosper together," Daniels said.

The new Wal-Mart Super Center will create up to 500 new jobs for the area.