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Business owners split on new Walmart

Dykes Street in Cochran is buzzing with the sound of construction.

And Misty Smith, who opened Southern Frillz boutique a week ago, says she's excited about what the traffic from a new Walmart could mean for her own business.

"We thought it was awesome. We're excited about it," she said.

And those on the job hunt agree.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says Bleckley County's unemployment rate is 13 percent, and they've lost more than 1,000 jobs in the last five years.

"You have an opportunity to move up, plus, you can relocate to different cities," Willie James Johnson said.

"As you can see we have a lot of people who've been coming in and out," said Walmart assistant manager, Yhachia Gadsden.
"We've had about 25 people and it's not even 1:00 yet."

But not everyone in Cochran is happy about the retail giant coming into town this summer.

Down on Second Street more than half of the business owners 13WMAZ talked to said they were unhappy with the superstore's construction and worry it could hurt their business.

"I hate to see them go because of people losing their jobs. Seems like there's enough of that in most places now anyway," she said.

Others are willing to wait and see instead of worrying. Shawn Ratley owns Harvey's. Since a Piggly Wiggly shut down, it's been the only grocery store in town.

"It happens, and it's made us even busier, but even with the new Walmart coming I don't expect it to hurt our business," Ratley said.

He says while the new Walmart's presence may intimidate small business owners, he says good customer service and good reputations in the community should keep them going including his.

"I mean at first people go to things that are new, but I think we're here to stay," he said.

The Walmart is expected to open in July.

For those interested in the jobs, you can apply in person at a temporary hiring center on East Dykes Street or online at Walmart Careers


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