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Walmart Closes Express Store in Oriental
The Timeline: Two Weeks and... Gone
January 31, 2016
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Friday January 22

10:57a In today’s Raleigh News & Observer Oriental resident Bob Miller describes the effect of Walmart’s experiment on Oriental.

12:49p Oriental’s first black-owned grocery store stood on upper Broad Street next to what is now the Walmart Express. William Gibbs was the owner.

Yesterday, Mr. Gibbs passed away at his home on White Farm Road. He was 86 and lived his life in Oriental. A butcher by training, he worked at what was the Delamar store at the base of the bridge and also at a grocery shop in what is now the Provision Company. That was before opening his own store.

Grace Evans remembers William Gibbs as “someone really special.” Among other things, “Snooks” Gibbs, as he was called, served on the first board of Pamlico Community College and the NC Coastal Resources Commission and was the first African-American appointee at CAMA.

Service and visitation hours are not yet available.

3:50p A lot of letters came in in the past week since Walmart announced it was closing all 102 of its experimental Walmart Express stores. We are less than a week away from the shut-down of store #7207 just outside of Oriental which will leave our town with 2 empty grocery stores and no full-service supermarket.

So… what next? Some letter writers have considered the options. You can read them in this new Letters to the Editor file. And write one of your own. Email us at letters@towndock.net

Monday January 25

A number of TownDock readers have written in today noting that Oriental is mentioned in a Bloomberg news article. Its title – Wal-Mart: It Came, It Conquered, Now It’s Packing Up and Leaving. It’s about the impact Walmart had here in town both as a huge company competing in a small town, and now as a vacating retailer. It quotes Town Commissioner Barb Venturi.

It is good to have national media note how Walmart’s “experiment” effects real people in real towns. One sentence – “Residents of Oriental, where some city officials originally tried to block Wal-Mart from opening” had this writer wondering what the source was. What actually happened? The town sent out a press release in August 2013 welcoming Walmart.

Back in 2013 when Walmart first announced its plans, some residents welcomed the store. Other residents tried to stop it, warning of the very things that came to pass – the closing of the existing grocery, the eventual pull out leaving Oriental with no grocer or drugstore. The Walmart opponents circulated a petition and called on the Town Board to drive a harder bargain with Walmart. At a contentious meeting, Commissioner Venturi challenged the petition, saying 122 residents signing wasn’t enough.

Fast forward 2-1/2 years, and Bloomberg quotes Commissioner Venturi commenting on Walmart’s quick departure “I was devastated when I found out. We had a pharmacy and a perfectly satisfactory grocery store.”

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Posted Sunday January 31, 2016 by Melinda Penkava

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