Business owners and operators in eastern Lincoln County have surprising reactions to county commissionersâ€™ 4-1 vote that now brings a new 203,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter to the N.C. 73/16 intersection.
Harry Heesch, who owns Fine Frames, a custom-frame shop located in the Food Lion Shopping Center, is glad Wal-Mart was approved.
â€œThe commissioner who voted against Wal-Mart (Marie Moore) did so because she lives in this area,â€ he said. â€œWell, I work near Wal-Mart and Iâ€™m looking forward to the business development in the community.â€
He says he accepts the situation as it is: a done deal.
â€œNow, I have to adjust my business plan to continue providing a superior product and service in order to compete,â€ he said.
Heesch says failure in his business is not an option.
â€œOur product is normally a higher-quality product because itâ€™s custom made, and therefore a higher price,â€ he said. â€œMy goal is to stay in competition and provide a different level of product and service.â€
Heesch, however, has a concern about how a Wal-Mart Supercenter may give grocery stores like Food Lion a run for their money.
â€œIf Food Lion went out of business because of Wal-Mart, it could adversely affect the shopping center and, in turn, affect individual businesses like ours,â€ he said.
Right now, Heesch closes on Mondays. With Wal-Mart coming in, however, he says that might change.
â€œIf it turns out Wal-Mart is competing with us, I may have to open on Mondays,â€ said Heesch.
The organization that represents many businesses in eastern Lincoln County, the Denver Area Business Association, is in a unique situation with Wal-Mart coming to Denver, DABA president Andrew Johnson said.
â€œAs an organization, DABA supports business growth in Denver,â€ he said, â€œbut now we have a business coming into Denver that has a history of killing small business.â€
â€œFrom a DABA standpoint we have concerns with Wal-Mart and the impact theyâ€™ll have on our core members.â€
Johnson estimates that the total process time between Wal-Mart expressing a desire to build in Denver and the vote this past Monday was less than six months.
Joe Turbyfill, owner of Turbyfill True Value Hardware on N.C. 16 in Denver, isnâ€™t concerned about Wal-Mart like fellow business-owner Heesch.
â€œIâ€™m big in the rental business,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m not worried about Wal-Mart because Iâ€™ve already made my money.â€
Glen Wilkins, community affairs manager with Wal-Mart, says the next step for the company is to obtain the permits from Lincoln County then bid the construction process out.
â€œIt takes 10 months to build a supercenter,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™d hate to speculate on a time table for when construction is going to start.â€
Wilkins also commented on one of the conditions commissioners placed on the store â€” its garden must be enclosed in brick instead of iron fencing.
From an operations standpoint, he said, putting a nursery in a brick structure is something none of the other retail stores are doing.
â€œWeâ€™re going to find a way to mix what the county wants with what we need,â€ he said.
by Jon Mayhew