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Braxton County businesses brace for Walmart

Charleston Gazette photo by F. Brian Ferguson A new Walmart in Flatwoods is being built near the foot of the hill where the late Bernard Coffindaffer erected his first set of crosses.
Charleston Gazette photo by F. Brian Ferguson
A new Walmart in Flatwoods is being built near the foot of the hill where the late Bernard Coffindaffer erected his first set of crosses.

FLATWOODS, W.Va. — A new Walmart Supercenter is scheduled to open its doors in March, just off Interstate 79 in Flatwoods. The big store’s main walls have already been built on a 15-acre plot of land near the Flatwoods Factory Stores.

That Flatwoods mall has 20 stores, many owned by West Virginians, as well as offices for the state Department of Motor Vehicles and a Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic.

Reactions from local store owners and community leaders in Flatwoods, Sutton and Gassaway range from welcoming the new Walmart to questioning whether it will help or hurt already existing stores and other businesses.

Marlene Campbell, president of the board for Landmark Studio for the Arts, said she believes “Walmart is already destroying small towns and small businesses. Small businesses can’t purchase goods at the same low prices as Walmart can.”

Originally called “The West Virginia Hillbilly Players” in 1978, the Landmark Studio purchased a historic Episcopal Church built in 1886 in downtown Sutton, which still has its original stained glass windows and beautiful woodwork.

Bulk Foods, one of the largest stores in the Flatwoods mall, has a clear view of the new Walmart from windows in its corner restaurant. Bulk Foods specializes in selling Amish foods, including cheeses, soups, grains, spices, chocolate, candies, wines and meats,

Garrett Stout, manager of Bulk Foods, said, “I think Walmart will bring more traffic into the area.

“It could have a positive impact, but you have to be different to stay in business. You have to be special and unique. You have to think outside the box. Walmart doesn’t do that.

“We rely on transit traffic. We hope Walmart attracts traffic that will get us customers. But until it opens, we don’t know what will happen…

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