Walmart announced Friday that it will be closing 269 stores, and the West Hartford location is among them.
By Ronni Newton
Walmart’s headquarters notified the Town of West Hartford Friday morning that the Bishops Corner store would be among the 269 stores that will be closing.
According to Walmart’s website, the store will be shuttered on Jan. 28, 2016.
Town Manager Ron Van Winkle said that because of the number of people Walmart employs in West Hartford, the company is required by state law to notify town officials of the closing plans. The store initially employed 130 associates, both full and part time, but Van Winkle was not sure exactlly how many people Walmart currently employs.
Walmart Neighborhood Market, which opened in Bishops Corner in February 2013, was not a full-service discount department store and at approximately 60,000 square feet was smaller than traditional Walmart stores. When it opened, it was the first Neighborhood Market in the state and touted its lower prices and large selection of health and beauty products as major attractions.
West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka spoke with a Walmart representative Friday morning after he learned of the closing. The representative “indicated that this closure has nothing to do with West Hartford itself, that this store is caught up in the national decision,” Slifka said.
“This space has had so many food stores,” said Van Winkle. “It’s on the back of the building, not very visible. They haven’t advertised like Big Y and Stop & Shop,” he said.
“It’s been a tough spot, and it’s a good size store,” Van Winkle said. Bishops Corner has several other places to shop for food, including Big Y and specialty markets Whole Foods and Crown Supermarket.
“The retail world is one that churns a lot. Food stores are an important basic enterprise but that area already has some large ones and they are very competitive,” said Van Winkle.
Slifka said that when he spoke with the Walmart representative he expressed his concern about the impact on the approximately 100 workers. “I’ve asked for further details about their packages – wages and healthcare,” said Slifka.
Slifka said he also discussed Walmart making a donation to the Town That Cares Fund.
The space at 333 North Main St. was formerly an Adams Supermarket, but had been empty for many years before the Walmart Neighborhood Market opened.
Van Winkle said that he doesn’t know what will happen to the space. Other food stores have expressed an interest in opening in West Hartford, but not necessarily in that area, he said.
The letter from Walmart, which was signed by the company’s director of public affairs, said that closing the West Hartford store “was a very difficult decision” and that company officials “know what this means for our customers and associates.”
According to a news release on Walmart’s website, 154 of the stores to be closed are in the United States while 115 are in other countries, and will include 102 Walmart Express stores – a smaller format that the company began piloting in 2011. “Walmart instead will focus on strengthening Supercenters, optimizing Neighborhood Markets, growing the e-commerce business and expanding Pickup services for customers. Also covered in the closures are 23 Neighborhood Markets, 12 Supercenters, seven stores in Puerto Rico, six discount centers, and four Sam’s Clubs,” the release states.
According to the release, the company will make an attempt to place associates in nearby locations. “Where that isn’t possible, the company will provide 60 days of pay and, if eligible, severance, as well as resume and interview skills training,” the company states.
The West Hartford store is the only Connecticut store the company plans to close at this time according to the list published Friday.
Walmart did not return a call for comment.
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