Wal-Mart is opening a Neighborhood Market in Hillsboro in spring 2015.
But local grocers are concerned about the impact the store will have on the local economy.
Dale Franz and his wife, Melanie, own Dale’s Supermarket in Hillsboro. The store was started by Franz’s father in 1959.
“We haven’t been able to figure out how to fight the big empire,” Franz said. “For a town our size, there’s not enough money around to support five places selling groceries.”
Hillsboro is about 50 miles northeast of Wichita, with a population of about 3,000. Other grocers in town include Heartland Foods, Dollar General and Alco.
“It’s not a surprise. We knew it was coming,” said Paul Barnes, who opened Heartland Foods in March after buying the store from the previous owners. “It’s going to make it difficult for hometown businesses to make it here.”
The Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, which will be 12,000 square feet, is slated to open in the spring at 605 Orchard Drive, according to a news release.
“I feel like it will help Hillsboro in our growth and putting us on the map,” said Hillsboro Mayor Delores Dalke. “On Highway 56, when people go by and see Wal-Mart signs, there will be a better chance of them stopping in Hillsboro than if they don’t see a Wal-Mart sign. We get a lot of traffic on Highway 56 on the way out to Marion Reservoir, and I think it will bring more people into town.”
Dalke said that Wal-Mart has not given the city estimates of its revenue, so the city does not have tax revenue estimates for the store. Wal-Mart has not asked for any tax abatements for the project, she said.
Hillsboro has a 1-cent county sales tax and a half-cent city sales tax that goes toward streets, sewers and other capital improvements, Dalke said.
The new store will employ up to 30 people. It will have fresh produce, a full grocery department with bakery and deli, a pharmacy, health and beauty section, household goods and a fueling station.
In Kansas, Wal-Mart employs almost 20,000 associates, according to a news release, and the average wage for regular, full-time hourly associates is $12.35 in the state.