If you’ve watched the news lately you know that Abilene has proposed opening a third Walmart location, and residents are furious. Abilene native Justin McBride has begun circulating a petition, urging Walmart to reconsider building another store in the Key City.
McBride stated that “..it is difficult understand why ANY community that already has 2 Walmart Supercenters would consider introducing a third.” and brought up potential socioeconomic impacts as a reason for his, and many other Abilenians resistance towards the corporate giant.
However, with economic growth still growing at a slow pace, some Big Country residents see opportunity where McBride sees a problem.
Arturo Gomez is one of these men. Gomez, a former Early resident now living in Waco, is a long-time real estate developer who visualizes bringing Abilene’s discarded Walmart to Longhorn Country.
“Historically, greenfield sites such as the proposed location on Oldham Lane and Loop 322 cost more to develop than greyfield sites. Greyfield sites are usually older buildings that could be demolished and newer structures are built on the footprint, or older buildings that are renovated to suit the needs of our clients. Look at Commerce Square in Brownwood. That’s the classic example of a greyfield site.”
Gomez was not at liberty to discuss his plans in detail, but suggested with an expanded exterior wall or two, the former Bealls location in Heartland Mall would be suitable.
Early resident Keith Patterson disagreed. “Walmart comes to town and crime goes up. All of the small businesses close down, and a sense of community is lost forever. Sure, you get low prices, but at the cost of American jobs. Enjoy your cheap Chinese crap, Early!”
“We were better off before the small businesses came anyway”, local farmer Butch Henderson stated. “Remember when we had a mall? We had a Walgreens. We had a K-Mart. We had a B Dalton Books. We had Bealls. Those were good times.. but then Mr. Patterson decided he was too good for the mall and opened a small roadside fruit stall over by the trailer park and everything went downhill fast. Small businesses destroyed what once put Early on the map. I ain’t got no time for ’em. I’m not saying burn them down or anything, I’m not a violent man.. but get rid of ’em. All of ’em.”
Henderson encourages all citizens interested in acquiring Abilene’s Walmart to sign the following petition, and comment “Early, please!” to show Walmart that Early is serious about business.