Updated: August 28, 2019 10:41 PM
People in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood are losing a place to shop. Walmart announced Wednesday it is closing its store on University Avenue on Sept. 20.
The company said the decision is based on a number of factors, including store performance.
It’s the second big box store to close in that plaza, following Herberger's last year.
“It’s challenging, it's a challenging time for retail,” said Ward 1 Councilmember Dai Thao.
He told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that he learned of the closure on Wednesday morning. He said his first thought was for the employees.
“Making sure their families are taken care of because I believe the majority of the employees are also immigrants,” he said. "They are also probably struggling in other ways, so we want to make sure they're well taken care of."
According to the company, more than 300 employees are affected by the closure. The company said all associates will be paid through Nov. 8, unless they transfer to a new location. After that date, if they don’t transfer, eligible employees will receive severance.
A spokesperson said in a statement, “Walmart's associates are the heartbeat of the company and the company's priority is to take care of them during this transition. We hope that most of the 333 associates will want to continue their career with Walmart by transferring to one of the many nearby stores.”
The store is St. Paul’s only Walmart.
“We’re also interested in working with them, so if they want to work in St. Paul, they can find a job here,” said Thao.
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Despite the loss, he said this will also create an opportunity. The store is next to Allianz Field and on the Green Line, with stops on either end of the block.
Thao said he's looking forward to working with building's owner, Minneapolis development company Kraus Anderson.
“We're going to continue to work with them to ensure that it's a project that works well for all of us," Thao said.
“It's important we don’t just plan for the next year, we have a 20, 30, 40 year plan and it's going to fit well.”
For people who live nearby, the closure will affect their every day lives.
“This is a shock and a bummer,” Latarius Sigmon said. “That’s the store to go shopping at all the time,”
He and his wife Kathleen walk over a couple times a week. Sigmon feels the neighborhood has changed since Allianz Field was built.
“I don’t even recognize St. Paul anymore,” he said.
Walmart Spokesperson Tiffany Wilson released a statement on Wednesday explaining the closure.
"After a careful and thoughtful review process, we have made the difficult decision to close the Walmart Supercenter at 1450 University Ave. W in Saint Paul. The decision is based on several factors including the store's overall performance," the statement read. "We invite our customers to shop at our nearby stores and on Walmart.com. We will continue to serve customers in new ways across Minnesota through expanded Online Grocery, store remodels and many other innovations aimed at saving them time and money. We will also continue our investments in training to give our associates the skills to succeed and a path to grow their careers."
"The store will serve customers through Sept. 20. The pharmacy will remain open through September 13. Our pharmacy staff will work with customers to transfer prescriptions to another convenient location. Otherwise prescriptions will be transferred to the Walmart Supercenter at 1960 Twin Lakes Parkway in Roseville."
Updated: August 28, 2019 10:41 PM
Published: August 28, 2019 12:00 AM
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