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Denver businesses reaction to Wal-Mart pro and con

Business owners and operators in eastern Lincoln County have surprising reactions to county commissioners’ 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.
“The commissioner who voted against Wal-Mart (Marie Moore) did so because she lives in this area,” he said. “Well, I work near Wal-Mart and I’m looking forward to the business development in the community.”
He says he accepts the situation as it is: a done deal.
“Now, I have to adjust my business plan to continue providing a superior product and service in order to compete,” he said.
Heesch says failure in his business is not an option.
“Our product is normally a higher-quality product because it’s custom made, and therefore a higher price,” he said. “My goal is to stay in competition and provide a different level of product and service.”
Heesch, however, has a concern about how a Wal-Mart Supercenter may give grocery stores like Food Lion a run for their money.
“If 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,” he said.
Right now, Heesch closes on Mondays. With Wal-Mart coming in, however, he says that might change.
“If it turns out Wal-Mart is competing with us, I may have to open on Mondays,” 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.
“As an organization, DABA supports business growth in Denver,” he said, “but now we have a business coming into Denver that has a history of killing small business.”
“From a DABA standpoint we have concerns with Wal-Mart and the impact they’ll have on our core members.”
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, isn’t concerned about Wal-Mart like fellow business-owner Heesch.
“I’m big in the rental business,” he said. “I’m not worried about Wal-Mart because I’ve already made my money.”
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.
“It takes 10 months to build a supercenter,” he said. “I’d hate to speculate on a time table for when construction is going to start.”
Wilkins also commented on one of the conditions commissioners placed on the store — 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.
“We’re going to find a way to mix what the county wants with what we need,” he said.
by Jon Mayhew

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